In a statement, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa today urged the public to act with great restraint and with the future in mind at a time when the world is in a very difficult situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “If you follow the advice of the doctors and the government, I am sure we can get rid of this epidemic very quickly. We, as a nation have overcome much bigger challenges. I am confident that together, we have the strength to overcome this disaster,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that all steps have been taken to control the situation. “From the time the virus started to spread worldwide, we have been very closely monitoring the situation. It was because we were very proactive, and closely monitoring the situation, that we were able to take the necessary steps to bring down all Sri Lankans who were stuck in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the epidemic, even before any other nation took action. Whether it was in Sri Lanka or overseas, our attention to protect the life of every Sri Lankan was never diminished even for a moment. We will take every possible action to protect them. It is because of this responsibility that we have completed all plans to bring down the pilgrims who went to India.
As a result, when we received a report about a patient or a person who had associated with a patient, we took steps to quarantine them immediately. It is because of this monitoring that we were able to quarantine thousands of people in one place over several days, providing them with food and medicine. It need not be said that as a country, this is a very difficult task. I want to emphasize that, no matter how serious the epidemic is, the government acts in a manner that minimizes discomfort for the people.
To protect our children, we declared holidays for all schools and universities in the country. We systematically curtailed international flights and have closed the Arrivals Terminal.
We have done this systematically having considered the situation in the country and the world. In the future too, our actions will be similar. As I address you at this time, the entire country is under a curfew. Even during the time when we fought against the worst terrorism in the world, we did not feel the need to impose a curfew throughout the country. But, due to the irresponsible behaviour of a few, we have been forced to take this step today.
We have taken this action for your safety and for the safety of your children. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you. We are also able to provide everything you need for your daily life. We have adequate stocks of food and drink, medicine and fuel for months. There is no need to have any doubt about this or panic in this regard. As I have said before, our government will not hide anything from the public. It is for the safety of all of us that information about patients and the nature of the illness is quickly disclosed to the public,” Mr. Rajapaksa said.