Some 1,700 COVID-19 infected Sri Lankan migrant workers are currently receiving home-based and hospital-based treatment in 17 countries and is almost thrice the number of domestic patients, which as of yesterday stood at 664.
The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLFEB) said 275 Sri Lankans have recovered from the virus while forty-two have died with all the deaths being reported from Middle Eastern countries. SLFEB Spokesman Mangala Randeniya said the highest number of patients and the highest number of deaths were from Saudi Arabia.
“Unlike in Sri Lanka, other countries do not send their COVID-19 patients directly to hospitals. Those who have mild symptoms are recommended home-based treatment. They are only admitted to hospital when they develop severe symptoms and are in need of ventilators,” he said.
Mr. Randeniya said among the infected and recovered Sri Lankans were four officials attached to our Embassy in Oman and five officials attached to our Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
"They had contracted the virus after working closely with Sri Lankan patients in their respective countries," he said adding that several officials attached to the Sri Lankan Consulate of Dubai had also been asked to undergo a period of self-quarantine though there had been no positive cases among them.
Meanwhile, the SLFEB said following the intervention by the Sri Lankan government, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government had agreed to extend the visas of Sri Lankan workers whose visas had expired. It said currently, there are thousands of Sri Lankans whose visas have expired, without jobs and accommodation and that discussions are continuing with other countries to facilitate Sri Lankans undergoing difficulties because of COVID-19.
Mr. Randeniya said the SLFEB with the support of community organisations abroad, have provided dry rations and medical safety kits to some 15,000 Sri Lankan migrant workers. He said the bureau is also making efforts to negotiate with employers in the respective countries to reinstate Sri Lankans who had lost their jobs. (Piyumi Fonseka)