March 11, 2020
The Defence Ministry together with the Health Ministry has taken all necessary precautions to prevent spreading Corona virus (COVID 19) to protect Sri Lankans who are arriving from COVID-19 hit- countries and also over 20 million of country’s population, which is vulnerable to the virus.
Following the directives of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa two centres Poonani and Kandakadu have been declared as quarantine centres that function under the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) to keep who are arriving from COVID 19 hit - countries like South Korea , Italy and other virus hit- countries for 14-days.
The passengers who arrived in the country from Italy, South Korea and Iran were sent for 14-day quarantine starting from yesterday to the two centres facilitated by the SLA.
Military Spokesman Brig. Chandana Wickramasinghe told a media conference held in Colombo, today, that the government had decided to put those, who were coming from countries listed as ‘risky’ areas of COVID-19, under the quarantine process at two centres in the Eastern province as they are less populated areas and ideal to isolate them for a period of 14-days.
“Army has provided all the facilities required for quarantine similar to the first quarantine facility set up in the Diyatalawa Military Hospital,” he said.
According to the Military Spokesman, Consultant Community Medicine and the Deputy Director of Preventive Medicine and Mental Health Services of Army Hospital Col. Dr. Saveen Semage, who had gained experience of handling those who were in quarantine process earlier, is in-charge of the quarantine process at the two centres.
Meanwhile, citing the recent social media posts that damaging the well-established quarantine process by the Army, Brig. Wickramasinghe requested the media to report about COVID – 19 with much responsibility to educate the people but not to mislead them.
“Those who are arriving the country, whether they are infected or not, they have a right to return to their motherland. But they also need to be responsible, to protect those who are living in the country, by willingly undergoing the quarantine process to clear them to endose that they are free of any viruses,” he stressed.
However, Police spokesman SP Jaliya Senaratne explained the legality of putting those who were returning from COVID –19 hit - countries under quarantine process, which is mandatory under the NO 3 of the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance of 1897.
“The quarantine process which is following now by the military is completely lawful and noncompliance to the stipulated routine would be leading to an imprisonment up to 6 months and could be fined from Rs 2,000 to Rs. 10, 000, if any one who is found guilty of refusing to be in the quarantine process”, he said.
Requesting media and also the public to support to prevent spreading the virus, SP Senaratne said they had noticed objections from the public to set up quarantine facilities in several locations.
“We need the support of all the segments of the society to face the COVID -19,” he said.
Assuring to provide necessary requirements in the two quarantine centres, Brig Wickramasinghe said all those quarantine facilities were open free of charge and individuals undergoing treatment at the centres would be provided with special toiletries, sanitary items, outfits, meals and other amenities inclusive of Wi-Fi.