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Lockdown could prove oppressive to the people: Sri Lanka army chief

Army Commander Lt Gen Shavendra Silva

ECONOMYNEXT – A nationwide lockdown could prove oppressive to a majority of the public, Sri Lanka’s army chief and head of the COVID-19 task force Lt Gen Shavendra Silva said.

While it may be easy to implement, a lockdown could pose a challenge to members of the public trying to eke out a living, Silva told the privately owned Derana TV this morning.

As of 11.30am today, Sri Lanka has confirmed 321 new COVID-19 cases that emerged from a new cluster in the Minuwangoda area in the Gampaha district, two days after garment factory employee tested positive for the virus.

The army commander said the pressing need at the moment is contact-tracing in order to contain the spread of the virus, rather than imposing an island-wide lockdown. Three areas in the Gampaha district – namely Minuwangoda, Divulapitiya, and Veyangoda – where a majority of the infected apparel factory workers reportedly reside in are currently under police curfew, he said.

A decision has been reached following discussions with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to maintain the status quo.
“Nearly 1,400 persons are employed in this company [Minuwangoda apparel factory]. Another 400 are engaged in sanitation services in the company. Apart from 495 among them, the rest reside in the areas where the police curfew is implemented,” Silva told Derana.

The 495 employees all have addresses in various parts of the country and measures have been taken to identify them, he said, adding that over 125 of these employees are now being escorted to military-run quarantine centres.

According to the army chief, COVID-19 patients identified from the Minuwangoda cluster are primarily from the Ampara, Anuradhapura, Badulla, Gampaha, Hambantota, Jaffna, Kegalle, Kurunegala, Matale, Matara, Monaragala, Nuwara Eliya, Polonnaruwa, Puttalam, and Vavuniya districts.

Silva further said that some of the employees have not returned home within the past three to four weeks. Family members of those who have visited their homes are now in quarantine. Some 150 family members had been sent to quarantine as at 9.40pm last night, he said. (Colombo/Oct06/2020)

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