Afghan government release 100 Taliban prisoners as part of peace efforts
The Khaama Press | 9th April
 
The Afghan government released 100 Taliban prisoners amdi ongoing peace efforts, the National Security Council (NSC) said.
“Pursuant to President Ghani’s decree of March 11, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan released 100 Taliban prisoners today based on their health condition, age and length of remaining sentence as part of our efforts for peace and containment of COVID-19,” according to a statement released by NSC.

PM Hasina for boosting intl cooperation amid pandemic
Prothom Alo | 10th April
 
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has called for boosting international cooperation to fight novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as she wrote a letter to Chinese president Xi Jinping, thanking Beijing for supplying medical equipment to Bangladesh to contain the lethal virus.
PM’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim on Thursday said the prime minister, in the letter, called for enhancing international cooperation to combat the fatal disease and urged president Xi to play a major role in mobilising the global leaderships to address this unprecedented challenge.

EU grants Sri Lanka EUR 22 million to support COVID-19 response
Colombo Page | 9th April
 
The European Union announced a EUR 22 million grant to support Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 response.
Noting that Sri Lanka’s very low number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far is impressive, the European Union said to support Sri Lankan efforts further, the assistance is targeting the health, agriculture and tourism sectors.
For health, the EU will be providing EUR 2 million for equipment and medical supplies to be procured by the World Health Organization and to strengthen laboratory networks in the country.

 

AFGHANISTAN

 
Karzai calls for resumption of Kabul-Taliban talks
Afghanistan Times | 8th April
Former President Hamid Karzai expressed concerns over a delay in the negotiations between government and Taliban delegations over the prisoner swap.
“I am concerned about the lack of progress in the government-Taliban Movement talks on the release of prisoners. I urge the United States to deliver on its commitment to bringing peace to Afghanistan,” Karzai added.
The former president called on the two sides to resume talks this time more serious and with more attention for bringing a durable peace.
 
Severe restrictions announced for Kabul city amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases
The Khaama Press | 9th April
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) announced more restrictions for Kabul city amid a sharp rise in the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country.
According to a statement released by MoI, the police forces are obliged to implement the restrictions in a more strict manner, considering the sharp rise in coronavirus cases.
The statement further added that the ministry strictly prohibits commuting on public streets with effect from today, warning that the police forces would take strict legal actions against those who would commute on the streets without any emergency work.
 
 

BANGLADESH

 
PMO issues directive on emergency services, supply chain
Dhaka Tribune | 9th April
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has issued directives on operations of emergency services and supplies amid the shutdown to stem the spread of novel coronavirus. 
“To keep the emergency services and the supply chain as normal as possible, the following services will continue during the general holidays, despite movement restriction and any other preventive measures declared by the government in a bid to tackle coronavirus (Covid-19),” UNB reports quoting a PMO notification signed by Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus.
 
Dhaka seeks medical team, ventilators from China
Bangladesh Post | 8th April
The foreign ministers of Bangladesh and China in a telephone conversation have discussed the ways of cooperation in the fight against coronavirus outbreak. The foreign ministry said minister Dr AK Abdul Momen sought China’s support with medical expertise and ventilators needed to treat severally ill COVID-19 patients.
He also requested his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to consider deferral of payments against all Back to Back Letter of Credit (LC) opened in favour of Chinese suppliers for one year. 
 
Import of unauthorized coronavirus testing kits worsening situation
Dhaka Tribune | 9th April
At a time when the government is facing difficulties in battling and containing the spread of coronavirus, self-initiated import of unauthorized testing kits by some public representatives has created another public health issue in the country.
Although these public representatives term their actions as a “humanitarian cause,” health authorities  have warned that such actions could be “self-destructive” for the government’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
 

BHUTAN

 
Government ready with additional quarantine facility
Kuensel | 9th April
About 312 Bhutanese are returning to Bhutan. Another 1,000 or more are expected to return including those in Australia and in the Middle East countries soon.
The government has arranged two government coordinated special flights from New Delhi and a Bhutan Airlines chartered flight from Maldives carrying 72 people, especially immigrant workers, will arrive, according to foreign ministry officials. The Delhi flights will bring in 240, mostly students stranded in India.
 
E-commerce picks up, as Covid-19 discourage outing
Kuensel | 7th April
You name it— foods, clothes, books, drink and online fitness classes—global Covid-19 pandemic has created a massive demand for e-commerce and online shopping platforms in recent months within the country.
With health advisories encouraging physical distancing, consumer behaviour has been forced to change, people is changing the online world through what they are buying, when, and how.  Segments across e-commerce are helping ease peoples’ anxieties by bringing solutions both virtually as well as to the doorstep.
 
 

MALDIVES

 
COVID-19: Curfew lifted from greater Male' area
The Edition | 9th April
Health Protection Agency lifted the curfew imposed from 1700 - 2000 hrs across the greater Male' region.
In HPA's notice, Director General of Public Health Maimoona Aboobakuru stated that the curfew, which was announced on April 2 restricting daily movement including land and sea transport in capital Male' and the suburbs Vilimale' and Hulhumale', will be officially suspended from 1700 hrs.
 
200 Maldivians evacuated from Malaysia
Maldives Times | 8th April
National carrier Maldivian repatriated 200 Maldivians from Malaysia, landing in Maldives, amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The rescue flight was scheduled to bring back Maldivians stranded in Malaysia, where the coronavirus is reportedly spreading rapidly, leading to the Malaysian government declaring its administrative capital a ‘red zone’ and extending its movement control order (MCO).
 
COVID-19: European Union Provides EUR 3 Million Grant Funding to Maldives
Maldives Times | 9th April
The Government of the Maldives’ decisive, transparent and effective reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak is welcomed by the European Union and its Member States. This collaborative approach, which allowed for the swift and orderly repatriation of European tourists, has been appreciated by all.
 
COVID-19: Govt facilitates care package delivery to Trivandrum, Kochin
The Edition | 9th April
The government, announced its decision to facilitate the sending of care packages to Maldivians stranded in Trivandrum and Kochin in India, from their families in Maldives.
According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, arrangements are being made with the national airline 'Maldivian' to carry care packages to Maldivians stranded in Trivandrum and Cochin in India on its cargo flight scheduled for Saturday.

  

MYANMAR

 
  Govt negotiators, armed groups agree to postpone Panglong to July
Myanmar Times | 6th April
The government and ethnic armed groups have agreed to push back by three months the Union Peace Conference - 21st Century Panglong as the country steps up efforts to fight the COVID-19 disease.
The Panglong conference was originally to be held this month in a bid to breathe life into the moribund national peace process, which ground to a halt last year amid disagreements over the establishment of a federal union. 
 
Myanmar Citizens Give Up Power Subsidy to Aid COVID-19 Fight
The Irrawaddy | 8th April
A government initiative to encourage people to stay at home amid the COVID-19 outbreak by helping them pay their power bills has prompted a heartening response from the Myanmar public. To show their appreciation, many people are choosing to donate the amount they would have saved on electricity to the government to help fund its fight against the virus.
 
 

NEPAL

 
Tatopani border opens for one-way cross-border movement of goods from China to Nepal
The Kathmandu Post | 9th April
Despite the government’s decision to reopen both border points with China –Rasuwagadhi and Tatopani–for the cross-border movement of goods, the northern neighbour has agreed to open the Tatopani border only for now.
On March 25, the high-level coordination committee for the prevention and control of Covid-19, headed by Defense Minister Ishwar Pokharel, had decided to reopen the two Chinese border points to ensure supply of essential goods including medicines and medical equipment from the northern neighbour.
 
COVID-19: Private sector calls for incentives for domestic production of PPE
The Himalayan Times | 9th April
The private sector has called on the government to provide necessary incentives to start the process of manufacturing personal protective equipment in the country in a bid to deal with the shortage of the gear that is crucial to safeguard lives of people on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus disease and create employment opportunities at a time when shutdown has rendered many jobless.
 
385 pardoned prisoners walk free
The Himalayan Times | 10th April
As many as 385 prisoners or inmates, including juvenile delinquents, were released from various prisons across the country amid the fear of novel coronavirus pandemic.
Pradeep Raj Kandel, director general at the Department of Prison Management, said prisoners and juvenile delinquents walked free after they were entitled to remission of remaining jail terms as per the recent order of the Supreme Court’s full court and Section 115 of the The Criminal Offences (Sentencing and Execution) Act-2017.
 
 

PAKISTAN

  
Provincial govts advise people to offer Friday prayers at home
The Nation | 10th April
The provincial governments have directed people to offer Friday prayers at home due to novel coronavirus.
According to details, complete lockdown has been announced from 12:00 PM to 03:00 PM in Sindh and only three to five persons will be able to pray at one mosque.
Likewise, strict security measures have been ensured in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan and people have been advised to offer prayers at home.
 
Massive cash handouts scheme gets under way
Dawn | 10th April
Prime Minister Imran Khan formally launched the Rs144 billion Ehsaas Relief Programme and a sum of Rs50bn was given to banks for distribution of Rs12,000 four-month stipend among the families of poor and daily-wage earners who have been hit hard by the lockdown across the country due to coronavirus.
On the first day of cash distribution, 40 million people [out of 120m] received text messages (SMS) for collection of the amount from 17,000 branches of two designated banks — Habib Bank Limited and Bank Al-Falah — and 3,000 camp sites established with the assistance of the provincial governments.
 
Pak pledges $ 3 million for SAARC coronavirus fund
The Nation | 10th April
Pakistan Thursday pledged US $3 million for the SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund to support regional efforts in the fight against coronavirus. While communicating Pakistan’s decision to the SAARC Secretariat, it was conveyed that all process of the Fund should be administered by the SAARC Secretariat and that the modalities for the Fund’s utilization should be finalized through consultations with the Member States as per the SAARC Charter.

 

SRI LANKA

 
COVID-19 Fund balance surpasses Rs.585mn with public donations
Daily Mirror | 9th April
The balance of the COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund has surpassed over Rs.585 million with the public donations made by today, the President's Media Division said. Mr. Sarath Kumara Gurusinghe, a retired teacher residing in Nugegoda donated his pension for the month April to the COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund. Furthermore, Mr. Uyanahewage Ashoka , who has lost his vision also donated Rs. 0.5 million to the Fund. "Expressing their views they said that in this context, the contribution made by them to this Fund could be considered as a humanitarian duty performed by them as citizens of the country," the PMD said. 
 
Sri Lanka curfew update: Government urges public to limit Avurudu traditions to family members
Colombo Page | 8th April
The curfew imposed in the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Puttalam, Kandy and Jaffna which have been identified as High Risk Zones will continue until further notice.
In all other districts, the curfew will be lifted at 6.00 am on Thursday, April 09 and will be re-imposed at 4.00 pm on the same day. The re-imposed curfew will be lifted again at 6 am on Tuesday 14 April and will be re-imposed from 4 pm on the same day.

 

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