Army appeals for support of all to government’s quarantine efforts

COLOMBO (The Island/ANN) – Having been one of the first nations to have brought home its citizens from ‘Covid-19’-affected Chinese province of Wuhan and accomplish effective quarantine procedures, Army appeals from public not to hamper quarantine efforts due to irrational fear.

The Army has urged Sri Lankans not to hamper their quarantine operation due to irrational fears and protests. Sri Lanka is one of the first few countries to bring her citizens home safely from the ‘Covid-19’-affected Chinese province and accomplish effective quarantine procedures, the army says.

Sri Lanka is now geared up to quarantine those arriving from the virus-threatened Italy, South Korea and Iran at Punani and Kandakadu.

The army has said, in a media statement: "The government on a directive of the President, Health Ministry and the Ministry of Defence decided to establish provisional quarantine centres to face the ‘Covid-19’ threat, but irrational fears and protests continued to hamper those efforts. The Army on the guidelines, given by Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, in less than 72 hours improvised two Centres, situated in isolated, remote and sparsely populated Punani and Kandakadu areas for this specific purpose after equipping both Centres with all amenities and other facilities. Likewise, Lt. Gen. Silva, in close collaboration with others is in the process of screening a few more suitable places to be used in future in the event of any emergencies."

The army says while transporting those who had arrived from South Korea and Italy on Tuesday, it ran into difficulties as some people refused to let the convoy stop. "Despite these challenges, troops ensured that those in the convoys received refreshments and lunch at good hotels. This is an attempt of national importance. We need to isolate these people purely for quarantine purpose. None of them have been confirmed positive or contagious as of now."

By Tuesday (10) afternoon, Colonel Shaveen Gamage, Deputy Director, Preventive Medicine & Mental Health Services of the Colombo Army Hospital, along with a team of six Army doctors, took charge of quarantine of all those 305 expatriates, including two foreign nationals (father and son) who had arrived from South Korea and Italy in the past 24 hours, identical to how those Army medical experts previously managed with the Diyatalawa inmates. Major General Rasika Fernando, Commander, Security Forces - East was at both places supervising the project.

In the past 24 hours, escorted by the Police, STF and Army personnel, buses carried 281 of those persons by road to the East while a batch of 24 more expatriates were flown in a Mi-17 helicopter at the initial stage on Tuesday (10).

"The quarantine process is completely free. The Sri Lanka Army at the same time appeal to all those under quarantine to fully support this pivotal programme regardless of the initial shortcomings."

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