Monday, 30 March, 2020
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EDITORIAL

SAARC Collaboration To Battle Corona Virus



At the appreciable initiative of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leaders of South Asia have formed a solidarity to contain the threats of new Coronavirus that has spread in pandemic proportions across the globe. At a time when the virus is taking considerable tolls in Iran and Europe, the South Asian leaders on Sunday pledged to build partnership to battle the risks of the deadly virus by formulating joint trans-border strategies. As the virus has been expanding its fatal tentacles on the global scale, international partnership is essential to fight the pandemic. National actions are crucial to curb the Covid-19 dangers as done by China, but the control measures can be effective when nations of the world take collaborative and coordinated steps, putting aside all the political differences. The virus contagion is the common enemy of the human societies and aggressive trans-national actions should be put in place to contain it.

Though just one Covid-19 case was found and later successfully treated in Nepal, dozens are reported to have been infected in India and Pakistan. The assumption that the virus spreads only in cold places may not be true. Nepal is lucky to remain out of touch till date, but it does not mean that we should remain complacent and fail to take preventive measures. There is an open border between Nepal and India with hundreds of people moving across the border every day. If strict control measures are not taken, virus infections can spill across the borders not only between Nepal and India but between other SAARC nations as well. It is a very positive development in this regard that the SAARC leaders held a video conference to exchange important ideas about this serious issue. Despite his weak health after recent kidney transplant, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli joined in the regional video conference and said that the collective wisdom and endeavours will help to devise a sound strategy for the South Asia region to effectively fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Nepal, on its part, is acting seriously to prevent the outbreak of the virus, he said.

In a bid to check the spread of the virus through air travel, Nepal has suspended the issuing of on arrival visas. Nepali nationals coming from abroad have been screened and advised to stay in self-quarantine even if there is no detection of symptoms. Isolation is necessary because the virus can stay dormant for two or three weeks. In addition to the screening at the airports, the measures need to be put in place at the border entry points between the SAARC nations. To talk of Nepal and India, the trade and cultural links are very deep. Due to this reason, trans-border movements and public intermingling is widespread. Measures should be taken with the maximum utilisation of technologies, manpower and resources to curb the spread of the virus. This is very encouraging that Indian PM Modi has announced the establishment of a ten million US dollar emergency fund to fight Covid-19. He has asked other SAARC members to make voluntary contributions to the fund. All members of the regional body should make their respective contributions and form a mechanism to utilise it promptly and properly. 

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