New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday addressed the SAARC leaders in a video conference to chalk out plans on coronavirus and said that ‘prepare, but don’t panic’ has been India’s guiding mantra in dealing with the outbreak of the virus. However, he called every leader of the SAARC countries to remain vigilant. Also Read - Star Sports to Air 50 Greatest IPL Matches Starting March 29

“As we all know, COVID-19 has recently been classified by WHO as a pandemic. ​So far, our region has listed fewer than 150 cases. ​But we need to remain vigilant,” PM Modi said. Also Read - Naomi Osaka Supports 'Brave Decision' to Postpone Tokyo Olympics 2020

PM Modi said that the country started screening people entering India from mid-January itself while gradually increasing the restrictions on travels. Also Read - Coronavirus: PM Narendra Modi Praises Suresh Raina For Donation to COVID-19 Relief Funds in Quirky Fashion | POST

“Step-by-step approach helped avoid panic; we made special efforts to reach out to vulnerable groups.”PM Modi said at SAARC video conference on COVID-19.

Saying that India responded well to the call of its people abroad, PM Modi said his country evacuated nearly 1,400 Indians from different countries.

“Our people-to-people ties are ancient and our societies are deeply interconnected. Therefore, we must all prepare together, act together and succeed together,” he said.

PM Modi thanked all member countries for joining the SAARC meeting through video conference to make plans to fight the deadly coronavirus. “I would like to thank you all for joining this special session. I especially thank our friend, Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli who has joined us immediately after his recent surgery. I wish him a speedy recovery,” he said.

The meeting of the SAARC leaders comes at a time when the confirmed cases of coronavirus have gone up to 107 in India with two reported deaths due to the deadly virus.

PM Modi took part in the video conference of all SAARC member countries on Sunday to fight Covid-19 in the region just two days after he proposed that the leadership of SAARC nations should chalk out a strong strategy to fight the coronavirus.

“Coming together for common good! On 15 March at 1700 IST, PM Narendra Modi will lead India at the video conference of all SAARC member countries, to chalk out a strong common strategy to fight COVID-19 in the region,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said in a tweet.

Earlier, PM Modi had said that the SAARC countries can lead the way in the fight against the deadly virus and set an example for the world.

“I would like to propose that the leadership of SAARC nations chalk out a strong strategy to fight coronavirus. We could discuss, via video conferencing, ways to keep our citizens healthy. Together, we can set an example to the world, and contribute to a healthier planet,” PM Modi had said.

The move from India, however, was welcomed by leaders of Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and also by the Afghan government.