President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday spoke of the special and unique measures the government has taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus which includes the  establishment of quarantine centers managed by the armed forces and the deployment of the State Intelligence Services, the police and Public Health Inspectors to do contact tracing.

In his address to the online summit of the Non-Aligned Movement under the theme ‘United against  COVID-19”, the President said both these measures have helped Sri Lanka cope with this pandemic quite successfully enabling the health authorities to function at the optimum level.

The President explained the process saying that whenever a person afflicted with the virus was detected the contact tracing method was used to find out details of persons with whom the afflicted person had come into contact.

“Once identified, all such persons were taken to a specially designated quarantine Centre or arrangements were put in place to self-quarantine such persons. If an entire area was found to have been contaminated, such areas were isolated and quarantined. Of the 31 clusters identified so far, 27 have been completely neutralized while the other four are being kept under strict control eliminating any spill over to the general population,” he said.

He also said health authorities are continuing to conduct extensive PCR tests.

“ Given an excellent free healthcare system which includes a well-established preventive mechanism placed throughout the country, Sri Lanka has been able to contain the spread of this deadly virus utilizing the public health processes,” he said

The President also gave details of the measures that have been taken to mitigate the issues caused by the work stoppage due to the curfew  imposed to stop the virus from spreading.

“As Sri Lanka notes with deep concern that developing countries are facing an unprecedented economic and debt crisis due to the pandemic, need for debt relief and financial stimulus for these countries must be duly recognized. In this regard, Sri Lanka re–iterates its call and joins global appeals for international financial institutions and donors to provide debt relief and greater financial assistance to vulnerable countries. It is important to emphasize that Middle Income Countries too face critical and diverse economic and social challenges that have been augmented by this pandemic. Therefore, it is important to also focus on their needs at this juncture and accord the necessary financial support to avert negative economic consequences,” he said.

The President said that Sri Lanka believes that national and regional level initiatives complement and strengthen the global response to the crisis. Sri Lanka contributed USD 5 million to the SAARC COVID – 19 Emergency Fund to assist the South Asian region in its efforts to deal with the challenge.