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Sri Lanka delaying bringing back migrant workers due to shortage of hospital beds – Cabinet Spokesman

SELF IMPOSED: Information minister Bandula Gunewardene holding sheaf papers detailing HS Codes of items under self-imposed trade controls.

ECONOMYNEXT- The government is saying it has had to delay the process of repatriating Sri Lankans abroad because the capacity of the hospitals to accommodate COVID 19 patients is being stretched due to the high number of people afflicted with the disease among the returnees.

Co-Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena told reporters said that the government is giving the first priority to bring back all the Sri Lankans who want to return.

“We are bound to protect every Sri Lankan citizen and to bring them back if they are suffering any affliction in a foreign country,” he added.

He also said that the Ministry of Foreign Relations is conducting a weekly analysis of the records of Sri Lankans who had registered with the respective embassies abroad.

Earlier this week, the Additional Secretary to the President Admiral (Rtd) Jayanath Colombage said that the government had prioritized the students overseas to be brought back before the migrant workers.

Gunewardena said that the President had told the Cabinet that if the repatriates who had contracted the virus can be identified then the government can stop bringing them so that the virus won’t enter the country.

Further, he said the government had discussions with foreign countries to identify COVID-19 patients prior to boarding the plane by sending our own PCR testing team. However those countries did not allow our teams in, he added. (Colombo/June11/2020)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe

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