REOPENING SRI LANKA
Posted on May 18th, 2020

BY A.A.M.NIZAM – MATARA

We Sri Lankan should feel fortunate to have an altruistic, utterly-patriotic. determined, and iron-willed President at a time when the whole world is gripped with the deadly Corona pandemic. When this epidemic erupted in Wuhan in China’s Hubei province and was spreading very fast to countries beyond China our futuristic visionary President took immediate action on 27th January to form an all-embracing Task Force comprising the tri-forces, the civil protection forces. The health sector establishment personnel, the Police, the officials of the strategic services, the provincial, district, regional administrators, Samurdhi, and Grama Sevaka services officials and entrusted them the joint and individual tasks that needed to be undertaken to save the people from the epidemic. 

Incidentally, on the same day 27th January, the first Corona infected patient of this country, a 44-year-old female Chinese tourist was found and she was admitted to the IDH hospital for treatment.  The Task Force made all arrangements necessary for establishing 45 quarantine centers with proper guidance from the health service personnel, army personnel constructed several extension units to hospitals, the Police mapped out operational plans to be undertaken under Curfew and other sectors also got in readiness to undertake their tasks.   However, there was no patient-reported for the whole month of February, which gave ample time for the Task Force to get properly established. The first local patient, a tourist guide serving for Italian tourists, was reported only on 11th February.  Subsequent detections were all from people who have arrived from Iran, Italy, India, and South Korea and tourist guides who have served foreign tourists.  (Please refer to a detailed description of how potential patients were traced, quarantined, and cured outlined by the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense Major General (Rtd) Kamal Gunaratne in an interview with Derana TV – highlights of the interview translated into English follows)at the tail-end of this article.)

In the meantime, the President who was very much concerned about the people’s hardships under the curfew, established another all-embracing Task Force, headed by the former Minister of Economic Development Mr.Basil Rajapaksa to provide redress to the people. Among the functions undertaken by this Task Force included ensuring an uninterrupted and adequate supply of food, medicine, and other essential items to the people throughout the country, farmers provided with adequate fertilizer and another utensil, ensure rice, vegetables, fruits, eggs, and other farm products are purchased by government authorities for distribution at concessionary prices and for free distribution for destitute people, prevent high jacking of prices by middlemen, ensure transport of these items to all over the country, ensure the distribution of Rs. 5000 /- per month distress allowance to the needy families, to prevent hoarding, creating artificial shortages and shooting up of prices by unscrupulous traders, etc.

 The people throughout the country belonging to all walks of life, all ethnicities and all religions appreciating the efforts being taken by the government to save the people and curb the spread of the virus joined hands with the government efforts by making enormous sacrifices and foregoing many of their activities. 

Buddhists refrained from visiting temples on Bak and Wesak Full Moon Poya days to offer various poojas, observing Sil at temple premises, listening to overnight pirith and Poya Day Damma sermons at temples.  Instead, they performed all these activities including offering Aamisa and Prathipatti poojas in their houses.  There were no Pandols, Dansals, and other roadside and public places Wesak illuminations but they carried out these activities in their home gardens and decorated their houses.  There were no Wesak tour bus services and community tours to prominent temples including Sri Pada, Sri Maha Boduya and Sri Dalada Maligawa.

Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebrations faded into inhouse events. There were no crackers, no cross country races, no pillow fights, no pol pora events, no climbing of greased poles, no swimming and boat roving contests, no chariot (thirikkal) races, no coconut scraping and weaving of thatches, no breaking of pot by the blind, no placing of the eye for elephant by the blind, no search for the hidden guest, no spoon and lemon and gunny bag races, no bun eating and bursting of balloon contests, no selection of New Year Queen or Avurudu Kumarata to name a few traditional events.  Kevum, Kokis, and other food items were prepared for the consumption of family members.  There were no oil annointing functions at the village or area temples and it was done in the houses itself by the elders.  Even money transactions known has Ganu Denu were carried out among family members.

It was reported that President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa did not visit his ancestral home, Medamulana this year to celebrate New Year with his brothers, family members, relations and villagers and instead, he held several meetings in Colombo to review progress and shortcomings to Coerona arrest, food and medicine distributions, curfew control by the Police and other contingencies.  It was also reported that the President donated his salary for three months to the Virus Control Fund and a cheque amounting to Rs. 292,5000 in this respect was handed over to his private secretary P.B.Jayasundera to deposit in the Fund.          

The Christians too gave up many traditional religious observances and commemorations performed at the Churches including visiting churches for Sunday mass, observing Lent, Maundy Thursday, Goof Friday, and Easter Sunday commemorations and instead they were held at their residences. There was also no staging of crucifixion displays and pandols displaying Jesus Christ’sresurrection.

Muslims rescind from attending Friday Jumma congregational prayers and the five times a day congregational prayers at mosques and many social and community activities related to the Holy month of Ramadan and performed such activities individually in their residences.  The activities included performance of long hours congregational night prayers Tharaweeh by men and woman, performance of congregational Qiyam ul Lail prayers after midnight during the last 10 days of Ramadan and congregational pre-dawn Thajjud prayers in the mosques. There were no whole night congregational prayers and supplications on the 27th day of Ramadan called Lailathul Qadr, the blessed night,  holding community Ifthar breakfasts, group Ifthars in mosques, group recital of Holy Quran called Hizb at mosques after Tharaweeh prayers, visiting friends houses for Tharaweeh snacks and drinking sherbeths  etc.  

Tamils too did not have any communal public functions in respect of the New Year, and refrained from holding Sivarathri poojas at kovils, and holding Ther (chariot) processions and offered all their poojas individually in their residences without going to Kovils.

Many philanthropists also came forward to offer considerable assistance to the Virus control, programme. The business tycoon Dhammika Perera placed orders worth Rs. 29 Million for the import od several ventilators, ICU facilities and many modern hospital beds.  Mr. Dulith Jayaweera, offered his 150 Roiom Citrus Hotel in Hikkaduwa with necessary modifications to use as a quarantine centre, Hemas and John Keels also offered their hotels in the Eastern province to be used as quarantine centres.  Kalutara District MP Vidura Wickremanayake and many others offered their ancestral bungalows to be used as quarantine centres. Several Apparel industries, including Brandix changed their production schedules to manufacture face masks and corona protection kits.

Several media institutions and civil service organizations made arrangements to distribute rice dry ration, vegetable, and fruit parcels to households in many areas.      

However, it is sad to note, that despite all sacrifices being made by people all over the country devoid of ethnic and religious differences, the opposition politicians in this country were the only disgraceful and loathsome ruffians in the world who politicized the virus threat and wholeheartedly aspired for its extensive escalation throughout the country in vicious anticipation of the collapse and fall of the government and did not come forward even to offer a bottle of water or a Maalupaan (fish bun) to the distressed people.  They wanted Sri Lanka to become the worst affected country in the world even surpassing the situation in their country of mentors, America and Britain. They condemned all the gallant and splendid measures being taken to combat the virus threat.

The Chinese President Xi Jinpinh who sent several plane loads of face masks, corona prevention kits, testing machines, disinfections and other equipment has telephoned the President and commended the excellent and exemplary work being carried out for combating the virus threat. He has said that China and Sri Lanka, while ensuring COVID-19 prevention and control, should gradually resume practical cooperation in various fields, advance major cooperation projects, in an orderly manner, and promote the high-quality construction of the Belt and Road initiative, and has added that such efforts would provide impetus for Sri Lanka’s economic recovery.

Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that Xi recalled that various sections of Sri Lankan society offered China active support at a critical moment in China’s fight against the coronavirus disease, with many moves particularly heart-warming and touching measures. The report stated that the Chinese President noted that under Gotabaya’s strong leadership, Sri Lanka had effectively contained the spread of the epidemic, adding that China stood ready to continue to provide firm support and as much assistance as its capacity allowed for the South Asian country in line with its needs and expressed his confidence that the people of Sri Lanka would certainly defeat the epidemic at an early date.


It said that Xi also thanked the Sri Lankan government and people for taking care of Chinese citizens in their country, during the pandemic, and said the Chinese side would continue to ensure the safety and health of Sri Lankan citizens on its soil.

The Rodiya caste pseudo Buddhist Pa.Cha.Ranawaka who has a record of joining political parties and betraying them (For instance- JVP,Sinhala Urunaya, Hela Urumaya) and now in the Shameless Jabbering Bandits (SJB) group attempting to become its deputy leader bypassing founders such Harin Fernando, Mangala Samaraweera and Rahitha Senaratne has been continuously critical of the government’s activities and making hollow gallery talks similar to his political root fellows Jeppos perhaps to get support from the politically infantile members of the Bandits group.  Statements that had been made by this Rodiya caste nincompoop include that the government figures on Corona Virus incorrect, Only President’s prime Minister’s family members and staff are being thoroughly checked about virus infection, government deliberately subjecting security forces to become virus infected victims.   Another statement made by this nincompoop was that the President had been an American citizen at the time of his election and he should be forced to vacate the posy.  He got a thundering slap for this statement from the American Ambassador Aliana B, Teplitz.  She said that as per their records Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa relinquished his American citizenship from April 2019.

The imbecile ignoramus self assumed leader of the Shameless Jabbering Bandits (SJB) Sajith Premadasa has suggested that the government should suspend holding elections and that expense should be used to pay the salaries of the servants. The firmer Minister of Finince Mr, Ravi Karunanayake criticizing this statement which has exposed Sajith Premadasa’s lacuna of economics has skinned him saying that several times of the amount required for holding the election is required to pay public servants salary.  He has hinted that it is better for Sajith Premadasa to refrain from talking about unknown economics.

The other morons who are worried about the success being achieved by the government are the despicable Jeppos.  Belimal Ratnayake who had been alleged to have functioned as a Gonibilla in 89-90 period and betrayed innocent JVP supporters has said the Corona in African countries is less than in Sri Lanka exposing his dimwit nature as it is only now the corona virus has entered the African continent.  In another statement this blockhead has said that some mercenaries who are being paid by the Rajapaksas were criticizing the JVP since they are he says a significant force.  On top of this his leader Mr. 3% has accused that the President was not respecting the constitution and the country is now in a lawless status.   

Reopening the country from 11th May by confining curfew only to Colombo and Gampaha districts was a great success.   The CGR and the SLTB played significant roles in this measure.  10 office trains carrying public and private sector staff arrived from Beliatte , Kandy and other destinations and there were adequate SLTB bses to take them to their offices and work places.  In the evening they were taken back to their homes by return services.  All measures had been taken to disinfect the offices and work places by 10th May and provide safety measures at work places.  Only wayside shops remained closed in these two districts but that too are expected to be opened in this gradual process of reopening the country. The CGR has also announced normal train services to be commenced from 18th may.

Meanwhile, the State Airlines, the Sri Lankan Airlines played a significant role by bringing back stranded Sri Lankan students and public servants who were on training in foreign countries.  All those who were brought in this manner wer subjected to disinfection and then ferried to quarantine to undergo a minimum 14 days quarantine period.  The airline has announced that its normal services will start from the 18th May. 

It was sad to note that a meeting convened by the Prime Minister to enlighten the former parliamentarians by the health service and security personnel on the measures being taken to combat the virus threat, keep them advised about the current situation and obtain their views and views and suggestions was boycotted by the former parliamentarians of the opposition except by members of the TNA. After the meeting the Prime Minister told the media that the boycott of the meeting by the opposition displayed their utter disregard for the welfare and protection of the people of this country.   

The Educational, Health and Security sectors are reported to be cautiously reviewing on the possibility of reopening Universities and schools as they are very much concerned about the vulnerability of students to the virus in a situation of difficulties to maintain minimum distance requirements and other essential virus prevention requirements. They are also reported to be planning to open this sector taking into considerations the guidelines that had been issued by the WHO.

Meanwhile, all arrangements have been made to commemorate the 11th Victory Day (on 19th May), celebration of which had been suspended since 2015 by the terrorist servile and TNA obsessed Sirisena/Ranil government The function will be held under the leadership of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.   Over 1,000 persommel belonging to all units of the security forces are to be promoted on this day.  

Major General (Rtd) Kamal Gubaratne participating in the Derana 360 peogramme, interviewed by veteran TV journalist Dilka Samanmalie said that when you have a determined leadership to support, when you have the right dedicated personnel and when you plan it properly there can be nothing that can prevent you from achieving your objectives.  He said that when the deadly corona virus erupted in Wuhan in the Hubei province of China and was fast spreading all over and beyond China and killing people the President took a bold decision on 27th January that we should make all efforts to defeat the virus and prevent the people of our country falling prey to it. Accordingly, he formed a Task Force integrating the tri-forces, the health sector personnel, the Police, the intelligence service units, the civil defense force, officials of the strategic service departments, provincial, district and regional departments and samurdhi service and grama seva department officials. 

Incidentally, the first corona infected person from our country was reported on 28th January that was a 44 year Chinese female tourist who was admitted to the IDH Hospital.  For the whole of February no virus infected person was reported on 8th February and by that time we were in full readiness on how to tackle the situation, on the mechanism to be undertaken, roles to be played by the health service personnel, the intelligence services and each and other allied services. We were fully prepared. Then there were increase and decrease in the number of infected persons. 

He said that they have full confidence that unlike America, United Kingdom. France, Italy, Spain where thousands of people have died despite being the powerful, rich, resourceful countries in the world.  The reason for that those countries completely entrusted the task of curbing the spread of the virus.  That was the difference between the measures adopted by them and the measures being undertaken by us. The Defense Secretary explained that it was a race between the virus and us.  The virus was running fast but their forces ran faster ahead of the virus and took measures to curb it.  This was done by intelligence gathered and identified on the potential areas of virus attacks and taking action to combat it.  That was why, he said, that when all the powerful countries were genuflecting before the virus, we proudly stood straight and firm.  It was possible because we as in developed countries did not palm it out only to the health sector and said that the PHIs, MOHs and Nurses too rendered an enormous contribution. 

Major General Gunaratne said that the first local patient was reported on March 8th and today being May4th there had been only 7 corona virus deaths and the 8th death reported on that had been due to renal disease.  He said that this splendid achievement was possible due to form leadership and guidance being given to them.  He pointed out that there were many criticisms from some politicians that we are putting patients in danger as we do not have sufficient ICU facilities,   He said that upto now only one patient has been treated in  the ICU. Countering an allegation that had been made by former MP Patali Champika Ranawaka that the country is being militarized under the guise of Corona eradication, the Major General regretfully said it is sad to find some people expect the people of our country expect the security forces to leave the citizens of this country die on roads like cats and dogs. 

Explaining about the spread of the virus the Major General said that a priest from Switzerland had cisited Jaffna and had   held prayer sessions for which many people have participated.  The person who served acplyte of this got with the virus and upon making enquiries it was found that the said priest has died from Corona upon returning to Switzerland.  Then the intelligence officers with great difficulty found more than 250 persons who have attended prayer sessions.  All those 250 people were sent to quarantine centres and out of them 16 were identified as virus infected patients.  He said that Jaffna is an area with high density of population and if they did not manage to identify and treat those 16 persons it would have been a great calamity in Jaffna.  Explaining further he said that on 19th may 2009 at 19.39 a.m. they put an end to terrorism in this country.  After that the political leaders in Jaffna said that there is no war there and the army should be withdrawn.  Even today these political leaders are making this demand in foreign countries. He said that none of those 16 affected persons volunteered to identify themselves and if the intelligence officers did not make a large number of people in Jaffna would have perished by now. 

Explaining about the modus operandi undertaken to trace the affected patients her said that when they come across a patient he said that the intelligence service personnel (ISP) enquire about people he/she had associated recently, he/she had visited recently and then they check his telephone records to ascertain hos/her vosots etc.  He said that some provide accurate information but some others do not do so.  For some people from Colonbo may say that he/she went to Kurunegala whereas he/she had actually gone to Hambantota.  It was facong such difficulties, he said, that the ISPs traced the people.   Giving statistics pertaining to patients in hospitals and those who have left for homes, he said that almost 50% have been cured and left for homes.   He asked in which country that 50% had been cured and left for hones other than in Sri Lanka.

Commenting on lockdown of villages, the Defense Secretary said that when there was suspicion of lsrge number of people in certain areas could get affected such areas were locked down and sometimes all of them in that village was brought under self quarantine under the observation of PHIs and Police officers and people were not allowed to go out from or come into that area. He said that in certain instances the potential threatened miber of people were high all the people in the village, or in a street or on a certain floor of a flat were takren to quarantine centres for a ,minimum period of 14 days quarantine and after that they are brought back to their residences with advise to undergo a further 14 days of self quarantine at their residenes, and some people who have not followed these rules strictly have got attacked again.

Explaining about large number of Navy personnel getting affected by the Virus, Mr/ Gunaratne said that a youngster in Suduwella, Ja Ela area was apprehended by the police for possessing drugs and then he was found to be infected with Corona virus and he has associated a large number of drug addict persons.  Many of them were found to be virus infected and when it was requested for them to go to quarantine centres they refused and became violent.  It was he at this time requested Navy personnel in the Welisara camp to go to Suduwella and make arrangements to take them for quarantine even by force if it becomes necessary. Only some of them in them in the camp had face masks, gloves and virus prevention kits.  Others despite lack of protection attire did not refuse to go there voluntarily regardless of potential they would encounter.  That was how they became infected.  He said that most of them were not critically affected and they are getting cured and returning to their camp safely.  Explaining further he said that in the camps of the security forces they have closely laid camp beds one above the other, a common mess for consuming meals, and common toilets.  That was also one factor that made them vulnerable. However he said if the Navy personnel had refused to go to Suduwella without protection gear by now the virus could have invaded Wattala, Mabola, Kandama. Ekala and many other areas in the Gampaha district.

Responding to a question about the reopening of the country from 11th May, the Defense Secretary said that the President does not take unilateral decisions on nationally important issues and this decision for gradual re-opening of the country from 11th May onwards had been taken after extensive review of the situation and in consultation with all parties involved in the current operation.

Referring to the allegations being made against our se4curity forces as communal, the Defence Secretary said that it was the security which combed all over Jaffna and identified over 250 people who could have become virus victims and took all steps necessary to quarantine and cure them without just leaving them that they are  Tamils and let anything to them.  He said a female PHI in Jaffna telephoned him and personally requested to continue with the curfew in Jaffna said that she wants to get her peopled.  Her said that on 19th 2009 the war was ended for all people of this country. Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Malay and Burgher from Point Pedro to Point of Dondra to live  as one nation as Sri Lankans devoid of ethnic, religious and other differences.  

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