Pakistan hosts SAARC video conference on COVID-19 today

Pakistan will host the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’s (SAARC) video conference on the coronavirus pandemic today.

“Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Health Dr Zafar Mirza will lead the Pakistan delegation. Besides ministers/senior officials, the meeting will be attended by Secretary-General SAARC, His Excellency Esala Ruwan Weerakon,” a statement released by the Foreign Office on Wednesday said.

The virtual meeting takes forward Pakistan’s earlier initiative to host the SAARC Health Ministers meeting, which has assumed urgency in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement read.

“In addition to exchanging updates on the status of national containment efforts, the conference will deliberate on ways to promote deeper cooperation to combat the crisis, including inter alia through strengthening disease surveillance, sharing best practices, building national capacities, coordinating research efforts and promoting regional and international linkages,” the statement said.

High population densities and fragile health systems render South Asia, which is home to one-fifth of humanity, vulnerable to the pandemic. Closer coordination among regional countries through utilisation of all available institutional mechanisms, including the SAARC platform, remains important for combating the disease.

“The video conference is part of Pakistan’s efforts to foster greater cooperation at the regional level to effectively overcome the public health crisis, and mitigate its socio-economic impact,” the statement added.

Pakistan has reported over 10,500 confirmed coronavirus cases with 222 fatalities.

According to Worldometer, India has reported the highest numbers of cases in the region, 21,797 with 681, reported deaths. Bangladesh has recorded, 3,772 confirmed cases and 120 deaths.

Afghanistan has reported 1,176 cases and 40 deaths while Sri Lanka has recorded 330 case and seven deaths. In Nepal 48, Bhutan seven and Maldives, 86 cases of the virus have been recorded. No deaths have been recorded in Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives so far.

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