Sri Lanka's Army Chief, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva yesterday warned that the threat of COVID-19 remained as long as other countries faced the pandemic and expressed disappointment that a majority of people in Sri Lanka had begun to defy the health guidelines.
Silva told Daily Mirror that the government had accelerated its repatriation programme, and a large number of COVID-19 patients detected, were from among those repatriated. "We have now accelerated the repatriation programme and are bringing in thousands of Sri Lankans from overseas because they are facing severe hardships in those countries, especially those in the Middle East.
The fact remains that within the past two days alone we detected over 50 patients. There is a bit of a danger because these people are travelling in a flight with other people, and when they land here, there are a lot of people who handle them from the airport, to the buses, to the quarantine centres.
So a small mistake can create an issue again. But if people are wearing masks and behave, then the risk is severely minimised," Silva said. Silva further called on those who have completed their quarantine period to strictly undergo a further mandatory 14 day quarantine in their homes and warned of action against those breaking the quarantine rules. He said while authorities were monitoring them, certain viruses were from certain countries and they were not sure how these virus patterns would behave.
Further, Silva expressed severe disappointment that people were not wearing masks and adhering to other health guidelines, warning that if there was a slight mistake, it would lead to chaos again. "A majority of the people in society are now behaving as if we had no COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka. They are now without masks and have forgotten all health guidelines. Basically, forgotten all what we discussed during the period, March, April and May" Silva said.
"We have completely cleared the Sri Lankan society within 50 days but because we are now repatriating people, we cannot relax. We feel disappointed at the way a lot of people are behaving," he said.Till last evening, the number of COVID-19 patients rose to 3,097. Last evening, three more locals who were repatriated from India tested positive while two were from Kuwait. (JAMILA HUSAIN)