December 19, 2020
We are very lucky as Sri Lankans to have a Public Health Inspector (PHI) and a Midwife to each household in the country, said the Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne (Retd).
They performed a praiseworthy job throughout the entire process and this was the first time the people of the country felt and understood the importance of PHIs, he said.
Further, making a special mention on the role played by the Medical Officers of Health (MOHs) and PHIs, he said “Their efforts were very efficiently supported by the Medical Doctors and the Staffers of the Health Ministry”.
Raising concerns into the 2nd wave of the novel pandemic which is currently in progress, he said it has become a concern of all of us and the ‘individual responsibility’ is the key concern in order to combat this pandemic successfully while urging people to act responsibly.
The Defence Secretary while illustrating the procedure adopted by the state-run mechanism to combat the pandemic, expressed these views to the Cadets and the staff of Sri Lanka Military Academy during their research presentation delivered to the Defence Secretary to disclose their findings derived over the research on COVID–19 pandemic on Dec 18.
“As you all are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has kept the entire world at bay”, he said adding that “In such a context where the major powers are also meandering before this pandemic, we, the Sri Lankans stood upright and managed to combat the pandemic very successfully in its first wave” he also recalled.
Further reminding how successful we are in containing the pandemic in its initial outbreak, he said “Consider this pandemic as a race between us; the People and the Virus; if the Virus reaches first it will become a calamity, but if we reach first, we will be able to take measures to contain its spreading”.
Elaborating the initiatives taken by the intelligence agencies to follow the areas where the pandemic is spreading and how we managed to reach the destinations before the pandemic goes Maj. Gen. Gunaratne said “subsequent to recognizing the prone areas for the virus, we took avenues to contain the pandemic” adding “Subsequently, actions were taken to lockdown such areas or followed the ‘Root Ball’ concept to isolate the infected regions to suppress the virus”.
Citing the virus outbreak within the Sri Lanka Navy during the first wave, he said “There had been about 850 sailors who were infected at once and we took prompt measures to contain the Navy Base with immediate effect” adding “Even the sailors who were on vacation were also recalled to curtail further virus spread”.
Explaining the engaging of intelligence agencies to pursue the virus spread, while extending his gratitude to the Director and staff of State Intelligence Service, he said “Our target was not only to identify and contain the first contacts, we also managed to follow 5th and 6th contacts using the ‘contact tracing methodology’ and then managed to conquer the pandemic by sending infected to the ‘Quarantine Centres’ while isolating their close associates”.
lauding government’s initiatives to integrate all relevant resources to fight against the virus, Defence Secretary said we were able to integrate all resources around the Defence Ministry including National Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management State Ministry, Health Ministry and also Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Governments which was found very effective on ground.
Indicating the mechanism led by the Acting Chief of Defence Staff and the Army Commander as the Head of National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID – 19, along with the assistance of other Service Commanders, Formation Commanders and Officers who administered the Quarantine Centres, Military Medical Officers and Other Medial Ranks, all Officers and Other Ranks including those engaged in minor administrative duties such as Drivers and Helpers who worked all out in this process he said, “It was a collaborative effort of all these individuals and we must always appreciate their efforts in our combat against the COVID pandemic”.
Since it may take some time to eliminate the virus from the country, Maj. Gen. Gunaratne urged the public to strictly follow the stipulated health guidelines, not to hide any medical related information, avoid community meetings and ‘stay at home’ and to pay very special attention to elders and those who are suffering from non-communicable diseases.
Realizing the pressure mounted among the community in facing the virus threat he affirmed, the President and the government along with the tri-services and the Health Ministry have taken all possible measures to eradicate the virus from Sri Lanka at the earliest.