- Calls to set-up a presidential task force to contain COVID-19, though one already exists
- Questions why Govt. has not declared State of Emergency
Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa yesterday called on the Government to utilise funds allocated for the General Election to expand quarantine measures, and called on the Government to declare a State of Emergency.
Speaking to media at the SJB head office, Premadasa said he was not satisfied with the measures taken by the Government to contain COVID-19. He charged that the Government was unable to roll out necessary measures that were needed to control the prevailing situation.
“We are ready to share our ideas with the Government to control the situation. The Government should fully focus on containing the virus and protecting the public, rather than focusing on the General Election,” he said.
The former Opposition Leader charged the Government was only focusing on the General Election to form a Government with a two-thirds majority, but was paying insufficient attention to the healthcare crisis. According to Premadasa, the Government should use all funds allocated for the General Election to contain COVID-19, which he argued was more important to the public than an election.
“Five weeks ago, I submitted a set of proposals to Parliament to contain the virus, but the Government ignored the risk and criticised my proposals. They even used several medical officers to counter my proposals. If they had taken my ideas into consideration, we could have contained the virus with less effort,” he charged.
He pointed out countries such as New Zealand decided to quarantine everyone who arrived at their airports, and Sri Lankan should have done the same. ”The Government should be more concerned about the situation and they have to act fast.”
Premadasa also called on the Government to declare a State of Emergency to control the virus. He also criticised the Government’s decision not to quarantine tourists arriving from China, and demanded an explanation from the Government on the decision.
However, Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe said the Government had taken into consideration the fact that patient numbers had been declining in China since February, and the country was successfully containing the outbreak. According to Premadasa, Dr. Jasinghe’s explanation was not sufficient, and he called on the Government to quarantine all Chinese tourists arriving in the country.
He also noted the SJB decided to cancel all public meetings for two weeks following the Government decision to ban all public gatherings.