President calls on citizens to cooperate to fight virus
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa called on all Sri Lankans to cooperate with the government to ensure that the threat posed by the COVID19 virus does not get out of hand.
Addressing the nation in Sinhala at prime time on Tuesday, the President detailed the various measures the government has taken to combat the virus.
He said that the Sri Lankan students who were at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan in China had been flown back home. They were quarantined and allowed to return to their families safely.
He said the first patient had been a Chinese woman tourist who was treated in a government hospital and was released after she was completely cured.
He said that the ban on flights, the compulsory quarantine arrivals from virus hit countries had borne fruit.
Many of the people infected with the virus were already in quarantine, he pointed out.
“From tomorrow no travelers to Sri Lanka will be accepted as incoming flights are stopped,” he said.
He called on Sri Lankans returning home to act responsibly.
“Please limit the trips you take,” he said.
The government has granted holidays for that purpose. He said people should avoid gatherings, parties and other events.
“This will help prevent the spread of the virus in the country,” he said.
He said that the decisions the government takes must serve all citizens. “There are parts of the country suffering from drought conditions. People there must be given drinking water,” he said.
For that and to provide government services the government officials have to be functional he said.
So everything cannot be shut down, he pointed out.
He said after he won the presidency he had to functional with a minority government. The “outgoing government had not presented a Budget and I had to work with a Vote on Account.”
As a result he said there was no money to pay for fertilizer, drugs and a host of other necessities.
“In order that I fulfil the promises that I made, I need a stable majority government.”
Therefore I had to dissolve parliament at the first opportunity and call for an election.
Because Parliament was dissolved I had the power to draw on the Treasury to deal with day to day expenses.
“That is how we are dealing with the present crisis,” he said.
“At the upcoming elections I ask you to accept the leadership of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the most beloved leader and give me the stable government that is needed to fulfil my mandate.
The President also said that national security was his priority, and promised that he would not disappoint the electorate.
“Today this country which is yours and mine is safe.”