As a measure to contain the outbreak of COVID – 19 President Gotabaya Rajapaksa instructed officials to suspend all inbound passenger flights to the country for 2 weeks with effect from mid-night tomorrow (18).
President also directed heads of Departments and other entities to ensure uninterrupted economic and trading activities as well as other essential services.
President issued these directives at a meeting with officials of the Task Force on Prevention of COVID – 19 virus held at the Presidential Secretariat today (17).
While we have to take stern measures to control the situation, we cannot let the country to suffer, President said adding that he is willing to take right decisions and requested the cooperation of all parties to implement them.
President elaborated on the steps taken by the Government so far and said the task force was set up on January 26th, being the first country to establish such a mechanism. Sri Lankans including students in Wuhan and other cities in China were brought back. Several quarantine centers were opened at different parts of the country. Last Monday was declared a public holiday with the objective of curbing the spread of the virus. Three more holidays have been given to sectors other than essential services.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said around 300 are currently scattered in various places in India who were on pilgrimage. President ordered relevant officials to send a flight to bring them back to the country.
The President pointed out that with the World Health Organization’s announcement of the COVID-19, the government had taken every step possible to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
President Rajapaksa has instructed the police to find out about the people who are hiding in the country without getting quarantined and make people aware of them.
‘The existing situation should not be used to achieve narrow political gains. There is no need to reconvene the Parliament. If there is need to postpone the general election, the Election Commission has the power to do so’, the President said.
During the meeting, the importance of limiting parties, various fiestas and public gatherings as much as possible, was stressed.
Also stressed was the need of taking swift action against those who spread rumours and fabricated stories regarding the spread of the virus, with the intention of frightening the general public.
The President pointed out that granting leaves in a manner that it would disrupt the economic and civilian life is not a solution to the problem.
Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi and members of the Coronavirus Prevention Task Force and Heads of health and essential services institutions participated in this meeting.