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18th October 2020 22:32:13 Hours

Army Troops Pooh-pooh Fabricated Attempts to Tarnish COVID-19 Humanitarian Roles by Interested Elements

(Media Statement)

In full compliance with laid down strategic guidelines, once a need to move any close contact of a positive affectee arises, troops, engaged in COVID-19 preventive tasks, inform all of them by phone well in advance and request them to be ready ahead of such preventive evacuations, but in many instances these evacuees even after arrival of the troops, do take more time for preparations before they board the buses but such instances are politely tolerated and managed. No tri serviceman, as alleged by some quarters in Kalutara, would dare to give only 'one second' for such preparations, nor would the troops provide them with uncooked 'raw fish' as alleged by them, apparently to suit different agendas of interested parties or those who act as forerunners of hidden plans of action, yet to see the light of the day, so says Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Head, National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO), Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army in reply to questions raised by a TV channel this morning (18).

We are there only to take those suspected cases who have got in direct contact with the patient. We fully understand their predicament but they should realize the gravity of the situation as it could be transmitted easily to society. Despite heavy workloads, I personally inquired into those allegations, but found that they are completely false. In fact, I sometimes get down even photos of those meals as well and closely keep in touch with authorities. Those QCs are run by tri servicemen and this congestion took place only during first few days when we had to cope with some 800 odd evacuees. People should note that we are trying to prevent the transmission into society and respective PHIs and Medical Officers are informed of our arrival to take away suspected cases. We are a group who gave away their mattresses and mosquito nets for the benefit of others and their dedicated services should not therefore be thus insulted or downgraded, he added.

Identical to others, we treat garment workers, their contacts and family members, too in the best possible way considering them as our own Sri Lankan brothers and sisters. There were similar treacherous attempts earlier too with past stories, like plastic bottle drinking, etc. Can any sensible person be able to get ready in a 'second' , Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Head, National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO), Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army queried firmly in that interview.

The mechanism that has so far effectively completed the quarantining of more than 52,000 persons, and is still engaged in the same with over 10,000 in island-wide tri service-managed Quarantine Centres, has been well appreciated by health authorities and profusely commended as evidenced through their positive feedbacks received to-date, and the Army performing a humanitarian role is here to be of assistance to Public Health Inspectors, Epidemiologists, Health authorities and other related agencies as part of health security at national level. The Army with other sister services is doing its utmost for the greater benefit of our society as the defenders of the nation and wants to ensure minimizing further transmission of this deadly virus to other areas. All people with common sense should therefore understand challenging roles the Army is playing and continue to cooperate with these efforts, some of which would perhaps have unintentional shortcomings, and help negate possibilities of further spreading of the virus, the Commander of the Army appealed.

The contact of a local Ayurvedic physician, now in quarantine in the Kalutara Quarantine Centre in question after her evacuation from Katunayake area too, contacted by the same channel this morning (18) went on live saying that the troops serving those Centres are providing fine foods to them with 2-3 vegetables, fish/ meat or eggs for main meals a day, and most of the time with adequate leafy vegetable (palaa) varieties, etc. She also rejected those malicious remarks, said to have been made by some interested elements.

Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva while strongly and flatly denying those unfounded and fabricated allegations, maintains that all those intentional fabrications bear all the hallmarks of a precursor to a bigger future machination the interested elements are now mapping out in order to tarnish or ridicule the role of the troops when the whole country is afflicted with a global health challenge of this magnitude.

In the same discussion, he requested Media personnel to conduct their own investigations and find out for themselves how those quarantine procedures are adopted and what is going on there without leveling unfounded accusations. (Ends)