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Future Covid 19 lockdowns unlikely – General Shavendra Silva

ON GUARD – Troops man roadblock at the entrance to Colombo before 3-day curfew is imposed

ECONOMYNEXT – The government will most likely cease locking down areas as a measure to prevent the spread of the Covid 19 virus, the head of the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of COVID-19 (NOCPC) said.

Army Commander Lt General Shavendra Silva told multiple Television morning shows today that the quarantine curfew now enforced in the Western Province will be lifted on Monday morning and it is unlikely it will be reinforced.

“The President has given us clear instructions to keep the country open as much as possible,” he told morning TV.

This follows a meeting held last evening President Gotabaya Rajapaksa held with the NOCPC and other stakeholders where the issues with daily wage earners was discussed.

In an edited YouTube video released after the meeting, President Rajapaksa is seen describing daily wage earners he passes every day on his way to work.

“These people don’t get regular salaries like Public or Private sector workers,” he says.

The President added that he gets multiple representations from business people who say the economy needs to run.

“We need to manage the pandemic while keeping the economy running. Closing down is not the answer.”

The President said that people who take due precautions don’t get the disease. “Nurses and other health workers who take due precautions don’t contract the disease. If everybody does that we can prevent the spread.”

He told the Task Force it is important that the public be taught to follow the health guidelines closely such as wearing masks, keeping social distance and washing hands.

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“We must insist that if everyone does that we can keep our businesses open, keep our factoring running and carry on with life.”

In a meeting held on November 1, the President emphasized the importance of conducting continuous and regular random tests. He also stressed that every effort should be made to provide the results within a short period of time.

Silva in his interview with both Hiru and Derana said it is unlikely that there will be future lockdowns.

“The President told us that the ten-day quarantine imposed on the Western Province which is the most densely populated in the country should be used to prevent the spread of the disease,” Silva said.

He said that the Task Force and the Health Authorities have conducted random testing in “areas we think there may be patients and we discovered 137 in the Colombo Municipal areas.”

Many other Asian countries have adopted this policy to open up their attempt to restart their economies that have stalled or gone into negative growth due to Covid related lockdowns.

Sri Lanka’s growth recovered rapidly after the initial lockdown phase was over but the new spread is threatening that surge.

Countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia which also adopted extreme measures at the beginning have seen an uptick in their economies. (Colombo, November 5, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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