SCO foreign ministers call for coordinated multilateral efforts to fight against COVID-19

Image Source : PTI External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the eight members Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Expressing serious concern over the “dangerous spread” of coronavirus and the mounting death toll, Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states said on Wednesday that the fight against COVID-19 requires coordinated and inclusive multilateral efforts under the UN system. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was among the Foreign Ministers of the eight-member SCO who attended an extraordinary video conference on Wednesday to discuss the cooperation to fight against COVID-19. A joint statement issued at the end of the meeting said the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic requires strong, coordinated and inclusive multilateral efforts with the central role of the UN system. The ministers called for effective interaction of the SCO with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international organisations and associations in the fight against coronavirus infection, it said. In order to ensure epidemiological well-being and bio security in the region, the ministers consider it appropriate to adopt a comprehensive action plan of the SCO member states at the upcoming SCO summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. The plan includes building the capacity of laboratories, improving the skills of specialists, conducting joint scientific research, developing vaccines and effective methods of treating diseases, the joint statement said. In his address to the meeting, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said all governments rise above differences and frictions, focus on tackling domestic infections, enhancing international cooperation and saving lives, in order to provide the leadership needed to win the fight against COVID-19. “We call on people around the world to defy pessimism and fear and reject attempts to politicise the response, label the virus, and stigmatise any specific country, in order to shore up extensive public support to win the fight against COVID-19,” he said amidst intense US pressure on Beijing to allow the international community to go into a Wuhan lab to investigate the origins of coronavirus. In recent days, US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have claimed that the deadly virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the outbreak was first detected last December. China has denied covering up the extent of its coronavirus outbreak and accused the US of attempting to divert the public attention by insinuating that the virus originated from a virology laboratory in Wuhan. Wang said the media across the world should observe professional ethics, adhere to science and reason, stick to facts and truth, and commit to impartiality and balance, in order to foster a conducive atmosphere for winning the fight against COVID-19. The SCO is a China-led eight-member economic and security bloc in which India and Pakistan were admitted as full members in 2017. Its founding members included China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Globally, the death toll due to COVID-19 has gone up to 293,241 with over four million infections reported so far. The US is the worst affected country, according to Johns Hopkins University tally. ALSO READ | Japan gives nod to rapid antigen kit to detect COVID-19 Latest News on CoronavirusLatest World NewsFight against Coronavirus: Full coverage

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