Govt. is fully geared to face coronavirus – Defence Secretary

March 13, 2020
  • Says it was mandatory for those who are arriving from COVID-19 hit countries to undergo quarantine process

Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne said the government was fully geared to ensure the protection of country’s 21.4 million population from coronavirus or COVID -19, today.

He said there was no need for people to get panic as the Defence Ministry was working closely with the Health Ministry and other relevant authorities to provide assistance to confronting the spread of the coronavirus.

“Defence Ministry together with the Health Ministry has taken all precautionary measures to prevent the spreading of coronavirus in the island under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s directives,” he said.

At a ceremony organised to award scholarships for the children of fallen and disable soldiers and civilians of the Gajaba Regiment held at the regimental headquarters in Anuradhapura today (13), he told the media that some issues had triggered when residents in those areas protested against setting up of quarantine facilities in some locations.

“We also had to face objections by some passengers, who arrived from COVID- 19 hit countries, when they were asked to undergo 14-days quarantine process,” he said adding that they were also panicked and were impatiently waiting to return to Sri Lanka to join with their families.

However, the Defence Secretary said despite objections of those who were arriving from COVID-19 hit countries, it was mandatory for them to undergo quarantine procedures as the safety of the country’s entire population is more vital.

“We are giving them the best possible care and facilities during the quarantine process,” he said adding that panic buying and stockpiling of essential items is not required as the Government would not let COVID 19 to spread throughout the country.

Maj.Gen. Gunaratne said as usual the military, which was the first respondents in a disaster situation, had come forward to support to mitigate spreading the virus further.

“The military is also tasked to analyse past records, items used, places that the infected people had visited and people whom they had associated,” he said adding that the Army Chief Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva has been appointed to coordinate the entire COVID-19 mitigation process.

Referring to the history of the Gajaba Regiment, which was founded by Late Maj. Gen. W.I.V.K.M Wimalaratne, the Defence Secretary said it was a prestige for the Gajaba Regiment as the President, Defence Secretary and the Acting Chief of Defence Staff and the Army Commander were also from this elite regiment.

“People of Sri Lanka elected President Rajapaksa with a hope to restore national security to have a peaceful country after the unfortunate Easter Sunday bomb attacks. We – myself and the tri-forces commanders- have been appointed to shoulder a massive task of restoring the national security,” he said requesting people to support the government to restore national security.

Addressing students he said : “It is your duty to accomplish ultimate hope of your parents by  excelling in education and to serve this country”.

Maj. Gen. Gunaratne paid floral tributes to the statue of the Gajaba Regiment’s founder Late Maj. Gen. W.I.V.K.M. Wimalaratne located at the Regiment Office Complex.

The Defence Secretary was accompanied by Chairperson of the Defence Ministry’s Seva Vanitha Unit (SVU) Mrs. Chithrani Gunaratne.

At the ceremony, 400 students were gifted school bags and stationery packages each worth of Rs.3,500, awarded 50 scholarships and 25 students those who excelled in grade 5 scholarship examination-2019 and ordinary level examination 2018. Students who have received university admissions excelled in Advanced Level examination 2019 were among the beneficiaries.

Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, Former Commanders of the elite Gajaba Regiment, President of the Regimental SVU, Presidents of respective SVUs, students and their parents were also present at the ceremony.