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Sri Lanka’s defence secy requests public not to stigmatise security forces personnel over COVID-19

UNDER LOCKDOWN -File photo of Navy Camp at Welisara

ECONOMYNEXT – The armed forces are playing a significant role in the frontlines of Sri Lanka’s fight against the novel coronavirus, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Maj Gen (Rtd) Kamal Gunaratne said, requesting the public to not stigmatise tri-forces personnel.

Gunaratne laid particular emphasis on the sailors at the Welisara naval base who had contracted COVID-19 and have allegedly been on the receiving end of some public criticism.

The sailors in question had contracted the virus while helping the health services locate suspectd cases of infection in Suduwella, Ja-Ela, he said in a statement. It is very unfortunate that the same people the navy personnel had tried to protect have complained against them after they went on leave, he added.

Following a directive issued by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa upon the detection of positive cases at the Welisara base, said Gunaratne, all soldiers, sailors and airmen have returned to their respective camps, having cancelled their leave.

The retired major general also claimed that some of the sailors on leave as well as their families – none of whom had tested positive – had faced harassment from their neighbours.

“These people have forgotten that the tri-forces personnel had saved them from terrorism, disasters like floods, landslides, tsunami and also man-made disasters risking their lives,” the statement quoted Guanaratne as saying.

When these very forces personnel had fallen victim to this fresh disaster, people are going against them, he added, urging the public once again to join the forces and the health services in the fight against COVID-19 without harassing them. (Colombo/Apr30/2020)

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