Friday 31st March 2023

2020 SAARC Conference: Leaders Collaborate to Combat COVID-19

Nepali PM Oli endorses India’s proposal to establish ‘COVID-19 Emergency Fund’.




2020 SAARC Conference: Leaders Collaborate to Combat COVID-19

In the 2020 South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) conference, the leaders of the eight SAARC countries have chalked out plans to curb coronavirus.

Prime Ministers of Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka and a representative of the Pakistani PM participated in the first ever video conference on March 15, 2020.

All the leaders agreed to establish a joint response mechanism to stave off Coronavirus (COVID-19) threat in the region. They also agreed to evaluate the long-term implications of the coronavirus on the regional economy and find the best strategies for early recovery.


Initiating the conference from New Delhi, Indian PM Narendra Modi proposed a rapid response team of doctors and specialists, surveillance software, online training and common research mechanism at the disposal of the SAARC to combat the COVID-19.

SAARC to Combat the COVID-19

He also proposed to establish a ‘COVID-19 Emergency Fund’ and agreed to provide USD 10 million as initial contribution. He, then, requested the other leaders to voluntarily contribute to the fund.

Other countries including Nepal approved the ‘Emergency Fund’ proposal initiated by India and agreed to contribute to the fund.

Nepal PM Oli

Meanwhile, Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli proposed to establish a SAARC emergency medical facility to deal with the identical health challenges in the region.

He shared the strategies and policies initiated by the Nepali Government to impede the coronavirus spread in the country.

“Even though we had detected one suspected case, the COVID-19 test proved negative. Yet, we are aware of the high risk of possible outbreak at any time. We remain alert to prevent it,” said PM Oli.

Likewise, all the other leaders expressed their opinions on the coronavirus outbreak.

This was for the first time the top South Asian leaders have participated in the SAARC summit since 2014 when the last summit took place in Nepal.

Coronavirus outbreak in SAARC countries

  • India – 115 cases, 2 deaths
  • Pakistan – 94 cases
  • Afghanistan – 21 cases
  • Sri Lanka – 18 cases
  • Maldives – 13 cases
  • Bangladesh – 5 cases
  • Bhutan – 1 case
  • Nepal – 1 case

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