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The government has taken many measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in the country. Therefore, all arrivals from overseas have been stopped. Hence, the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) requests all Sri Lankan migrant workers to cooperate with the government in its efforts to prevent the virus from entering the country and remain safely in their respective countries where they are employed.

Once the Coronavirus situation has been brought under control the government will consider their request. The SLBFE urged the Sri Lankan workers employed overseas to adhere to the safety instructions issued by the governments of these countries  and in the event they face any issue, they could contact the Sri Lankan embassies in their respective countries.

The statement read, “It is difficult to bring back those employed overseas as requested by their families at this point as the Sri Lankan Government has stopped all passengers coming into the country in order to arrest the spread of the Coronavirus. The danger in Sri Lankans being allowed to enter is that there could be an infected passenger on board the flight they are travelling in. In such an event others on that flight could also be infected. Moreover, while traveling to airports etc, there is also a danger of contracting the virus. Therefore, the best advice is to adhere to the health advisories in the countries that you all are residing in and be safe. The SLBFE appreciates your understanding and cooperation at this point of time,”
The SLBFE stated that they are constantly in contact with the relevant embassies and assured the Sri Lankans employed overseas not to worry unnecessarily. 
 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa paid homage to the Temple of the Scared Tooth Relic in Kandy today (28).

President was received by Diyawadana Nilame Nilanga Dela Bandara at the venue.

Diyawadana Nilame donated Rs. 10 million to the COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund.

President called on the Maha Nayaka of Malwatta Chapter Most. Venerable Thibbotuwawe Sri Sumangala Thero and President briefed on the measures taken by the Government to mitigate the spread of COVID – 19 in the country.

Maha Nayaka Thero invoking his blessings made a donation of Rs. 5million to the Fund.

Later, President paid a visit to the Anu Nayaka of Malwatta Chapter Most Venerable Niyangoda Vijithasiri Thero.

President explained the initiatives launched by the Government to prevent the spread of COVID – 19 to the Maha Nayaka of the Asgiriya Chapter Most Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thero. The Prelate donated Rs. 5 million to COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund on behalf of the Chapter.

President extended his gratitude towards the donations.

A historic relief package has been announced by the government yesterday for the public in the backdrop of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Addressing the weekly Cabinet media briefing at the Government Information Department, Co-Cabinet spokesman Dr Bandula Gunawardena said the Cabinet of ministers has approved President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s proposal to temporary suspend repayment of leasing facilities for three wheelers, school vans, buses, small trucks and etc. for six months with aim of providing them with financial relief until they return back to normal.

He said the Cabinet approval has also given to suspend repayment of personal loans of less than Rs.one million obtained by non-executive public and private sector employees for three months.

Gunawardena said the deduction of loan repayments from public and private sector non – executive employees was also suspended until May according to the cabinet approval.

Several other reliefs meaasures to protect the apparel and tourism industry would also be given in the future as both industries are badly affected from the COVID – 19 situation.

“US$ Five billion of the US$ 11 billion export income is earned from apparel exports, but the raw material importing countries such as China and supply countries such as USA are badly affected by COVID – 19. Therefore, the industry has to face a huge challenge to protect workers,” Gunawardena said.

Co – Cabinet spokesman Dr Ramesh Pathirana said the Government is grateful to the three forces and police for their valuable contribution. during this period. He said that the Government also increased the benefits of Agrahara Insurance of public servants.

Dr. Pathirana said that World Health Organisation (WHO) too appreciates Sri Lanka government’s initiative to tackle the COVID – 19 outbreak.

He said that Sri Lankan companies are starting to make face masks as well as ventilators and it should be appreciated.

A Special Task Force headed by former minister Basil Rajapaksa was also set up to help people by delivering essential items to their doorsteps, he added.

The Health Promotion Bureau has introduced a telephone hotline for all inquiries related to the Coronavirus.

The hotline is 1999 and is operational round the clock (24 hours) and information could be obtained in all three languages, Sinhala, Tamil and English.

The Suvaseriya Health Promotion Bureau's medical advice hotline is aimed at providing accurate information to the public and preventing the spread of false information. 

 

‘Contact Sri Lanka’ an online portal jointly created by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Information & Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) for the benefit of Overseas Sri Lankans was launched  (26 March 2020) at the Ministry of Foreign Relations.

The web link is hosted on the Ministry web page www.mfa.gov.lk and also can be accessed at www.contactsrilanka.mfa.gov.lk.

Establishment of the portal, is pursuant to the call made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for coordinated efforts by all Government stakeholders to fight the COVID-19 outbreak and to harness digital technology to prompt faster and more efficient service delivery.

All Sri Lankans living abroad are invited to register voluntarily on the platform’s basic functionalities allowing the Government of Sri Lanka to reach out and provide assistance during emergencies such as the COVID19 outbreak. This platform will allow the Ministry to access real time data for quick action. The open access platform would also facilitate Overseas Sri Lankans to interact between government stakeholders, promoting greater access to the Government services through a single centralized point at the Ministry of Foreign Relations. This Portal will also connect Overseas Sri Lankans with the network of Sri Lanka Missions abroad.

In the long term, the Portal will be expanded and is expected to serve as an official source of information and facilitate Overseas Sri Lankans in obtaining a wider range of digital services offered by the Government.

A dedicated team of officials have already been assigned by the Ministry of Foreign Relations to respond to queries of Overseas Sri Lankans and also to act as an online help desk, during emergencies in consultation with relevant stakeholders. Registration by country will also allow the Ministry to propose concrete policy decisions in critical response situations such as evacuation etc., depending on the number of emergency assistance requests generated.

For easy facilitation, the portal also includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) which will serve as a guideline for generic queries. This user friendly platform can be easily navigated via the internet, on any browser or interface and can be accessed by all registered users to direct a query or request assistance, even from a mobile phone.

The data provided through this portal is protected to ensure the privacy of Overseas Sri Lankans and will not be shared without the consent of the users.

The ICTA will be working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Relations in expanding the features of the portal in stages, to create a comprehensive online service platform for Overseas Sri Lankans, via the ‘Contact Sri Lanka’ Portal.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations, is hopeful that this integrated platform will elevate its existing service delivery for Overseas Sri Lankans to a higher level, particularly allowing rapid response in times of emergencies. All Sri Lankans living abroad are invited to benefit from this portal.

Statement by Spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry on death of Sri Lankan National in Switzerland

The Sri Lanka Embassy in Berlin has informed the Ministry that the Swiss authorities have confirmed that the Sri Lankan aged 59 years who died in Switzerland on 25 March had tested positive for COVID-19.

The deceased was from Punkuduthivu in Northern Province and held residence permit in Switzerland

Ministry of Foreign Relations
Colombo

27 March 2020

The third batch of 223 returnees who underwent the two-week (14 day)  quarantine process at Punani (125), Kandakadu (42), Meeyankulam (18) and Diyatalawa (38 including 04 foreigners 2 Iran, 2 Korea) Quarantine Centres (QCs) left for home last morning (26) from the respective locations after completion of medical procedures and receipt of Quarantine Certificates.

This was stated by the Army Commander during the media briefing of the National Operation Centre for the prevention of Covid-19 yesterday.

Those who were sent home were advised to further engage in self-quarantine for another 14 days once they return to their homes.

So far the number of persons released from quarantine centres after completion of their two week quarantine process stands at 678. A further 2,866 persons are being quarantined at 46 quarantine centres and of them 443 are scheduled to be sent home today, Lt. Gen. Silva said. 

Donations to COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund that has been established to strengthen the mitigation activities aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 virus in the country and related social welfare programme, have been exempted from taxes and foreign exchange regulations.

A special account had been opened at the Corporate Branch of the Bank of Ceylon under the account number of 85737373.

Deposits can be made through cheques or telegraphic transfers. Donors are requested to inform the Presidential Secretariat along with the relevant documents about their donations in cash to   the Fund.

COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund was established by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on last Monday. Creating the Fund President Rajapaksa donated Rs. 100 million from the President’s Fund.

President requests everyone to work in unison and brotherhood in the wake of the present challenge before the nation. Local as well as foreign donors can make their financial contributions to the COVID – 19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund.

The Fund has been set up to meet the following objectives.

To provide immediate funding requirement of Director General, Health Services to meet all expenditure connected with COVID-19 related healthcare facilities including drugs, testing equipment and capacity expenses.

To meet  expenses connected to healthcare and safety of health sector employees and all logistic providers working to provide essential public delivery services.

To provide basic essentials to children, women, low income, elderly, differently abled and vulnerable people.

To mobilize required funding to strengthen public healthcare systems, including village and remote area dispensaries, testing and treatment centers, family healthcare system, to further consolidate Sri Lanka’s public healthcare system to reduce country risks to communicable diseases.

To assist indigenous medicine, sanitary product manufacturing and distribution, promote research to use resources, knowledge and skills to innovate new health and sanitation products based on local raw materials.

To promote research and innovation using Sri Lanka’s medical and scientific knowledge and experience to develop protective dresses and sanitation products to global market.

To promote healthy living with organic food consumption, valuing traditional, yet rich living styles, through media and educational programmes.

To coordinate fund raising with WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank, ADB and Sri Lanka’s major development partner community and agencies based on best guidelines for resource allocations, harmonized national procurement system and governance practices.

The Fund will be managed under a management committee consisting of relevant Line Ministry Secretaries, Bankers, Financial Analysts and Health authorities.

The Government has focused its attention to the grim financial realities faced by the public due to the prevailing situation over COVID-19 in Sri Lanka and offered a plethora of measures to cushion off these effects, Minister of Higher Education, technology, innovation and information Dr. Bandula Gunawardena said yesterday.

Appearing in a live televised appearance on national television yesterday evening, Dr. Gunawardena said the Cabinet had arrived at several relief measures in an attempt to relieve the burdens faced by the public as well as key sectors of the economy.

"There is no one who is not in debt," he said. "Many sectors in our island nation such as tourism and garment industries have felt the effects much harshly than others. The President and the Prime minister have devoted more time to think of ways to assist the public during this difficult period than any other cause."

There are a large number of private companies that are affected due to the Coronavirus epidemic. If the garment factories close down, hundreds of thousands of our people will not have an alternative means of survival. Many countries are in total shut-down and there is an issue in obtaining raw materials. If the countries that purchase our garments do not purchase them, then we cannot force it on them.

The Government is contemplating relief measures taking into consideration the plight of the people. A large number of people earn a living through the tourism industry both directly and indirectly. What the Government intends in granting relief to the tourism industry is not assisting the rich.

There are others involved in a small and medium scale and they have leased their vehicles. Hence, the President proposed to suspend the leave payments for such persons for a period of six months, which received the Cabinet nod.

Further, the bus operators and school van operators have no income due to the Corona situation.  Therefore, the President’s proposal to suspend the lease payments for a period of six months from March 24th has been accepted by the leasing companies. He said the government and private sector workers loans being deducted from their salaries would also be suspended until May 30.  

 
 

The recovery of loan instalments for personal loans of less than Rs.one million, has been suspended for three months. For credit cards less than 50,000 the interest will be reduced to 15%.  Further, the Agrahara insurance benefits would be doubled and interest free loans could be obtained through Samurdhi Banks. There will be a six month moratorium on the leasing loan installments of all three-wheelers. He said this was part of measures to provide concessions to the public in view of the Covid-19 outbreak in Sri Lanka. 

In order to strengthen the efforts of the Government to prevent spread of COVID – 19 virus in the country, the duration from March 30th to April 03rd had been declared as a Work from Home period.

This will apply to all State, semi-government and private sector entities except which are categorized as essential services.

This period is not considered as public holidays. Uninterrupted continuation of public services is the responsibility of the Government. However, the objective of this measure is to prevent unnecessary gathering of people and pave the way for self-quarantine.

Earlier, a Work from Home Week was announced from March 20th to March 27th. The Government announces the same procedure should follow during this time too.

On the directives of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Public Relations Division of the Presidential Secretariat will remain open 24 hours to receive public complaints.

People can lodge their complaints on violations of government orders and regulations or any inconvenience caused through 011-2354550 and 011-2354655.

In the event the public cannot get through on these telephone numbers they can contact the officials through direct numbers of the Presidential Secretariat on 011-2354354 extension 3872/3874/3875.

The Director of Public Coordination Kapila Gunasinghe can be contacted on 077-3743718.

The telephone numbers to complain on any matter related to the spread of  Coronavirus are 011-2860003 and 011-2860004 as well as the public can contact through the telephone number 0112354354 with the extension of  3355 and all information given by the public will be immediately directed to the relevant divisions.

A full investigation would also be held on the non-compliance to the directives of the President.

Page 6 of 39

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