President urges public cooperation to combat COVID -19

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday instructed the authorities to suspend the on-arrival visa facility for foreigners arriving in Sri Lanka until further notice.

The President made this directive during a meeting at the Presidential Secretariat with specialists and experts in relevant fields to discuss the special measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka.

This means that all foreign nationals arriving in the country have to apply for prior visas except for citizens of Singapore and the Maldives.Sri Lanka suspended the on-arrival visa facility previously for the Chinese nationals following the new COVID-19 outbreak. The facility, which was granted to citizens of around 40 countries, was introduced boost tourist arrivals after the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks.

The 14 days of quarantine process is compulsory for both the Sri Lankans and the foreigners arriving in the country from Italy, South Korea and Iran. The Government has taken all necessary steps to provide health and other facilities needed for them. Therefore, the President requested everyone arriving from foreign countries to assist this process for the safety of the people living in Sri Lanka.

The President’s Media Division, issuing a press release on the meeting, stated that discussions focused on issuing a certificate after the quarantine process is over.

The President further requested those who arriving in Sri Lanka from other affected countries to cooperate with the process by living in isolation in their own houses.

“The President sought the cooperation of all sections of society to stop the spread of COVID – 19 in Sri Lanka. The President emphasized that the country would have to face disastrous consequences if it behaved in an irresponsible manner. The Government was successful in containing the disease without causing any hardships to the public since its discovery in Wuhan in China. The first Sri Lankan COVID – 19 patient in Sri Lanka was identified on Tuesday. The patient, a 52-year old travel guide, had travelled to Habarana and Dickwella with a team. Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe said that all required steps have been taken to inspect these locations and people,” the press release added.

“Around 685 people have been quarantined at two centres in Batticaloa. Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra de Silva said that the Army and health officials have taken steps to provide them with maximum possible facilities within a short period of time. The Handala and Diyatalawa centres are also now ready to be used for the purpose of quarantine.

“Attention was also drawn to immediately suspend group foreign tours. President Rajapaksa advised to store essential medicines without shortage and to streamline the necessary facilities required for the testing process. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi also attended the meeting,” the press statement added.

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