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A group of consultant doctors met with Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi yesterday (01) and presented several suggestions and mechanisms for the control of the spread of COVID-19.

During this meeting, they had presented seven proposals to the Health Minister. They are as follows.

01. All those with cough or cold should follow proper safety measures in providing service until it is confirmed they are COVID-19 positive.

02. Expand all research and criteria on Coronavirus.

04. Patients arriving at hospitals for cough or cold to be treated at special wards.

05. Provide all safety gear to medical staff treating COVID -19 patients according to proper procedure.

06. Provide life insurance facilities for the health workers treating Coronavirus patients.

07. Obtain specialist advice during clinical treatment.

The Health Minister praised the medical specialists for the proposal for an insurance scheme for the health staff, adding that it was most timely and appropriate. She also noted that all the other proposals too were timely and assured the Speclaists that proper attention would be given to their proposals. The Health Minister also said that hospitals would be set up in Colombo, Kalutara and Gampaha to treat COVID-19 patients.  

The Specialist medical professionals thanked the Health Minister for her proper management of this situation and for taking farsighted timely decisions.  

The Health Ministry Secretary Badrani Jayawardena, Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe, President of the Association of Medical Specialists Dr. Lalantha Ranasinghe, Secretary Dr. Ashoka Gunaratne and several others were also present at this meeting. 

The Cabinet of Ministers has requested President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to convince global leaders to convene a conference similar to Bretton Woods Conference to overcome post COVID-19 global economic crisis.

Briefing on this week’s cabinet decisions, Co-cabinet Spokesman Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardene said Sri Lanka had been able to take preventive measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic even before most of the countries in the world with the assistance of health sector workers, Tri Forces, police and other relevant authorities, under the far-sighted leadership of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

“As informed by the health sector authorities, the period of next two weeks has been identified as a high risk period. COVID-19 is the biggest menace that the whole world had to undergo since World War II. So none of the countries in the world can face the post COVID-19 crisis alone,” he added.

Considering this the Cabinet of Ministers proposed the President to urge global leaders to convene a conference similar to the Bretton Woods,” Dr. Gunawardene noted.

 
 

The Bretton Woods Conference was a gathering of leaders and financial experts from all nations to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the conclusion of World War II.

All irrespective of party, religion, creed or race differences should abide by the health sector instructions to combat the COVID 19 epidemic, said Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa this morning.
 
He made this observation at the Party Leaders' and party representatives' meeting held at Temple Trees to discuss the current COVID 19 combat programme of the Government.
 
He pointed out that so far the Government has taken all measures in this connection with the consultation of the health sector. He added the curfew has been imposed with the consultation and advice of health sector authorities and Security Forces.
 
He said further that when such measures were implemented, people would have to face inconvenience in their social and religious engagements. He added that they would have to tolerate them for the time being for the well-being of all.
 
Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe and Presidential Task Force Chairman former Minister Basil Rajapaksa on Supplying Essential Goods also explained the measures taken so far.
 
The party leaders expressed their appreciation of the work done by the Government, health sector and the Security Forces and assured their fullest cooperation. They made several valuable suggestions which the Prime Minister acknowledged.  
 
The meeting was attended by former President Maithripala Sirisena, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, former Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa and many others.
 

The GCE O/L examination results will be released before the 31st of April and the Education Ministry and the Examinations Department has no plans of postponing the GCE A/L examination, said Education Minister Dallas Alahapperuma addressing a media briefing held at the Government Information Department yesterady (01).

He noted that in the face of the prevailing situation in the country and the Coronavirus epidemic, no one can predict if schools could reopen by April 20th. Therefore, he said that self-learning and E-Learning modern learning methodologies would be introduced.

Currently, it’s been 19 days since school holidays were given and there are around 5.5 million students from pre-school to A/L idling at home. Therefore, he said that from April 20th the government intends to telecast educational programmes in Sinhala and Tamil on the Rupavahini Corporation Eye Channel and Nethra Channel. Cabinet approval had been granted for the President’s proposal.

 

A meeting was held yesterday afternoon (01) between the government and the UNP at the Presidential Secretariat regarding the country’s situation due to the Coronavirus threat, under the patronage of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The president explained at length to the UNP the measures taken by his government to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading in the country. He said that many of those infected with the Covid-19 virus are those found from quarantine centers or those who had closely associated with infected persons and by identifying them early it had helped in controlling the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, the head of the Presidential Task Force to Coordinate and Monitor the Delivery of Continuous Services for the Sustenance of Overall Community Life Basil Rajapaksa explained the programme launched by them. From the identified 6.5 million families island-wide, 5.3 million families are in the process of receiving Rs. 5000 each prior to April 09th, Basil Rajapaksa explained.

Both parties were of the view that all measures taken to control the spread of the Coronavirus should be done with the least inconvenience to the public. Both parties also agreed that all relief measures should not be political. Both parties also discussed the impact of this Coronavirus epidemic on the economy, state employees, businesses, plantation sector and those engaged in daily wage employment and the best way to resolve these issues.

Both the government and the UNP applauded and appreciated the commitment and dedication of the doctors, nurses and the entire health service, the tri-forces and police. Those who participated in the discussion agreed to inform their party representatives regarding the matters discussed at the meeting. The meeting lasted over two hours and was held in a cordial manner. Overall both parties agreed that it was a successful meeting.

Representing the government, Ministers Dinesh Gunawardena, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Wimal Weerawansa, Bandula Gunawardena, Johnston Fernando, Dallas Alahapperuma participated, while Deputy UNP Leader Ravi Karunanayake, Arjuna Ranatunga, Ruwan Wijewardena, Daya Gamage, Palitha Range Bandara, Navin Dissanayake, Lakshman Wijayamanne participated representing the UNP. President’s Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundara, Finance Ministry Secretary S. Artigalle and Central Bank Governor Professor W.D. Lakshman also participated.

 

The Presidential Secretariat had received information about several instances of fraudsters collecting money using COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund as cover.

The Secretary to the President requests the public to make their contributions to the Fund only through direct bank deposits, cheques or any other approved mean and not to donate money to any organizations or individuals.

The Government advises the entire population to observe “health quarantine”. The provision of their daily needs of food, medicine and other essentials services is being carried out according to the regulations and guidelines of health authorities and the Elections Commission.

The Secretary appeals to the public to inform such misdeeds to the nearest Police station. In this regard further information can be obtained from Mr. K. B. Egodawele, Director General (Administration) through 011 2354479/ 0112 354354.

With direct contributions from the public, the COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund reached Rs. 314.5 million mark today (April 02nd).

The Fund’s balance increased with the contributions of Rs. 10 million each by the Telecom Engineers Benevolent Fund and the Ceylon Electricity Board Independent Engineers Association and Rs.50 million by the Cargills (Ceylon) PLC.

A special account had been opened at the Corporate Branch of the Bank of Ceylon under the account number of 85737373. Local as well as foreign donors have made their contributions to the Fund. Donations to COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund have been exempted from taxes and foreign exchange regulations. Deposits can be made through cheques or telegraphic transfers.

The Director-General of the World Health Organisation Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had commended President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for mobilizing the whole government in the fight against the Coronavirus.

The WHO Director-General had stated this in an official Twitter message.

who twi

President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa appealed to world aid organizations to grant concessions to third world countries at risk such as Sri Lanka with an economy that is dependent on the tourism industry, exports, income from migrant workers, loans and foreign investment in the stock market.

The President held a telephone conversation with the World Health Organisation Director General and urged him to get the International Monetary Fund Managing Director, World Bank President, Asian Development Bank Chairman and leaders of leading countries which provides bilateral loans to allow the loans payable to be suspend or to re-align these loans. 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa held a discussion with the Governor of Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and other senior officials to assess the emerging macro-economic conditions due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. The steps taken by the CBSL to manage the operations of the Bank to provide liquidity and access to finance were also discussed during this meeting.

The President also enquired into the issues connected with the management of Foreign Exchange Budget and external reserves. He urged the CBSL officials to maximum confidence building measures are taken for the investors in the Sri Lanka Sovereign Bonds.

President Rajapaksa instructed that the CBSL should ensure that all the banks are kept open. The Bank officials were also instructed to workout post-COVID- 19 economic strategies.

Secretary to the Treasury, the CBSL Governor and its three Deputy Governors, Assistant Governor in charge of Bank Supervision and Director of Information Technology participated at the discussion.

 The curfew currently in force in the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutura, Puttalam, Kandy and Jaffna which have been identified as High Risk Zones in the wake of COVID – 19 will be in effect until further notice.

In all other districts, curfew which was lifted at 6.00am today (April 1st) will be re-imposed at 2.00pm today itself. The re-imposed curfew will  continue until 6 am Monday(April 6th) and  will be re-imposed at 2.00 pm on the same day.

Traveling to and from all districts has been  completely prohibited except for the purpose of providing essential services.

Those who misuse regulations introduced with the prime objective of ensuring the smooth and efficient functioning of essential services will  severely be dealt with according to the law.

The government has put in place a mechanism to continuously supply  essential food  and other goods enabling for the public to purchase them while at  homes.

Those who are engaged in paddy farming and cultivation of  small tea holdings  and export crops in any district are permitted to carry out their activities.

Since the sole purpose of these measures is to ensure the well-being of the people of this country in this critical situation, the Government requests the public to strictly adhere to the guidelines in a responsible manner.

The villages which have been declared isolated  areas in the districts of Kandy and Kalutara will remain in the same category  and no one will be allowed to enter or leave from these  areas until further notice.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa urged the Director General of World Health Organization (WHO) to pursue with the international financial organizations and lending nations to help developing countries adversely affected by COVID- 19 calamity.

In a telephone conversation with WHO DG Tedros Adhanom, President Rajapaksa requested him to pursue with the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund  (IMF), President of the World Bank (WB), President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and leaders of the leading bilateral lending nations to provide debt moratorium or debt re-profiling facilities for vulnerable developing countries like Sri Lanka whose economies  depend on tourism, exports, remittances and foreign investment in debt  and equity markets preventing affects by COVID – 19 pandemic.

The Sri Lanka Missions in South Asia, in collaboration with the Foreign Ministry, have been closely engaging with the Sri Lankan communities overseas and are working towards assisting and facilitating the many Sri Lankan expatriates in the region in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic. Mission wise, databases of Sri Lankan students and other expatriates are being compiled by the Missions with a view to keeping in close contact and ensuring their welfare at all times.

The Government of Sri Lanka with its recent announcement requesting all Sri Lankan expatriates to remain in their current locations until the risk of COVID-19 is minimized, has further assured that requests for return of Sri Lankans will be considered once the spread of the virus is contained in the country.

Meanwhile the Sri Lanka Missions in New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kathmandu, Islamabad, Dhaka,  Kabul and Malé have established ‘hotlines’ and social media groups and have been networking with Sri Lankans overseas and community organizations and representatives assisting them to stay in their current locations in a safe environment, in compliance with local regulations and also to ensure that those Sri Lankans in different locations have access to food and other necessities.

Missions have also been coordinating and discussing with the respective authorities and have also intervened and sought clearances for visa extensions, as required. Certain Missions have also been liaising with local health authorities in preparing COVID-I9 awareness messages in Sinhala language for circulation of messages to the community via mobile devices. With forecasted lockdowns in certain stations, these Missions have taken necessary steps to set up sub-offices at the residences of Diplomatic Staff, to work from home and continue the services to the community.

To ensure that the large numbers of Sri Lankan students enrolled in universities in these countries have continued access to hostel, canteen and medical facilities, the Sri Lanka Missions have been liaising with the respective academic institutions and continue to maintain constant dialogue with student groups. The Missions have also been in discussion with University Vice Chancellors, Registrars, Deans and other educational institutions to facilitate students by rescheduling their vacations and exams. Discussions are also being held in ensuring the stipends reach the scholars uninterrupted.

From a regional perspective, in its efforts to combat COVID-19, SAARC leaders recently agreed on the establishment of the SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund with voluntary contributions of the member countries, which includes Sri Lanka’s pledge of US$ 5 million.

Further, in strengthening Sri Lanka’s medical services and to ensure the uninterrupted supply of medicine and preparedness in view of the current public health emergency, the Foreign Ministry has already bilaterally sought the support and assistance from South Asian countries to assist in obtaining pharmaceutical items and medical equipment on a G-to-G purchasing scheme, considering the present emergency situation.

As an additional measure enabling the Government of Sri Lanka to reach out worldwide and provide assistance during emergencies such as the COVID19 outbreak, the Foreign Ministry has invited all Lankans overseas to register on the online web portal “Contact Sri Lanka” jointly created by the Foreign Ministry and Information & Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA). The portal was launched last week by the Ministry.

Ministry of Foreign Relations

Colombo

31 March 2020

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