With India leading the battle against the global pandemic coronavirus (COVID19), Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on March 15, addressed a SAARC video conference to share each other's efforts and issues as the seven countries battle the pandemic. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa began the conference by expressing his gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for initiating the move.
The leader said that Sri Lanka's economy had "taken a serious blow' due to the virus. He added that the tourism sector which was just recovering after 2019 terrorist attacks was suffering the most. Rajapaksa said that Sri Lanka's biggest challenge was to stop the virus from entering its territory and control it’s spread. Talking about Sri Lankan ciitzens abroad, he said that there were a large number of citizens working in Italy and South Korea. He further said that 34 students were evacuated from Wuhan and 750 others studying in different Chinese provinces were also rescued.
Rajapaksa further said, that the first positive case in Sri Lanka was a Chinese lady tourist who was cured and has already left the country whereas the first national was a tour guide who had contracted the virus from Italian tourist. Talking about the current scenario, he said that they had 11 cases and no deaths.
President @GotabayaR says that many lessons were learnt from sharing of experiences in the Video Conference and thanks PM @narendramodi for offering assistance like testing kits to regional countries #SAARCfightsCorona— PMO India (@PMOIndia) March 15, 2020
He said that there were special hospitals for treating coronavirus patients. Sri Laka also had a National Task Force comprising of all major stakeholders with power and authority to make crucial decisions. He further said that the country had an office with active hotlines to battle the spread of the virus before saying that Department of health had already started giving out health warnings. He went on to say that 12 hospitals declared suitable for curing COVID-19 with stocks of proper protective equipment.
Talking about shutting down institutions, he said that schools, universities and educational institutions have also been shut down to minimise communication. However, he said that the general elections scheduled for April 25 will be held as planned. He concluded by saying that all international conferences have been postponed or cancelled before urging for a ministerial-level group by SAARC leaders to coordinate regional measures to combat coronavirus.