Mar 17, Colombo: Sri Lanka President has advised suspending all arrival flights for two weeks to prevent spreading of COVID-19 after some Sri Lankans, who returned from affected-countries and found to be positive for the virus, are evading quarantine.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered the closure of the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake for two weeks with effect from Wednesday (18).
Accordingly, all flights arriving in Sri Lanka with effect from midnight of 18th March will be suspended for a period of two (2) weeks.
The decisions were taken at a meeting with the Corona Prevention Task Force chaired by the President at the Presidential Secretariat this morning.
President Rajapaksa has also advised the heads of departments and institutions to continue the essential services, economic and trade activities so as not to disrupt the normal daily lives of the people.
President Rajapaksa said that the country cannot be paralyzed even though the government has to do everything it can to overcome the problem. He said that he was ready to make the right decisions and requested the support of all parties to implement them.
The government has instructed to social gatherings, celebrations, large-scale meetings etc. while the police will take speedy action against those who spread fake news and incite or instill undue fear in public.
Meanwhile, the police was instructed to continue search for some 170 Sri Lankans who arrived in Sri Lanka from high-risk countries and escaped quarantine, and to raise awareness in public about them.
The government will also make arrangements to evacuate Sri Lankan pilgrims currently touring in India. The President has instructed to use two special aircraft that can carry the highest number of passengers to immediately bring back some 300 pilgrims touring in India.
The President pointed out that with the World Health Organization's announcement of the coronavirus, every possible step has been taken to control the spread of the virus in the country.
“The problem should not be used for narrow political purposes. There is no need for convening the Parliament. If the general election needs to be postponed, the Election Commission has the power to do so,,” the President said.
The President pointed out that declaring holidays impeding the economy and the public life is not a solution to the COVD-19 problem.
Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi, members of the Corona Prevention Task Force and other Heads of Health and Essential Services organizations participated in the discussion.