17th March 2020 21:39:25 Hours
The inaugural Media briefing of the 'National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak' (NOCPCO), established at No 1090, Sino Lanka Towers building on Sri Jayawardenepura Mawatha, Rajagiriya on the guidelines given by HE the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with the objective of centralizing, expediting and implementing all necessary preventive and containing measures against the transmission of COVID - 19 pandemic, took place this evening (17) at 4.30 pm. This Centre is headed by Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army.
The Media briefing presided by Hon. Ms Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Minister of Health and Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, who is also to spearhead the 'National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak' addressed the Media, together with Dr Anil Jasinghe, Director General of Health Services, Dr Paba Palihawadana, Deputy Director General Health Services, Mr Ajith Rohana, Deputy Inspector General of Police and Mr Nalaka Kaluwewa, Director General Information as contributors at the head table.
Attendees in the briefing were told that a total of 16 Quarantine Centres around the country with 2080 returnees are currently operational and the total number of COVID-19 positive cases has risen to 43 and are being treated in hospitals. This 24-hour open National Operation Centre, established under the guidance of HE the President is mandated to centralize, expedite and implement all necessary preventive and containing measures against the transmission of COVID - 19 pandemic across the island.
From midnight on Wednesday (18), all passenger arrivals in Sri Lanka are to be suspended until 31 March 2020 but departures cargo and transits services handling would continue unaffected. This National Centre would continue to educate the public round the clock on the spread of the deadly virus and all other preventive measures. Those circulating false and fake stories on COVID-19 will be prosecuted and two of such cases have already been identified, according to the Police.
Similarly, legal action would be instituted against those who ran away from quarantine procedures and upon arrival at the airport. Law enforcement authorities call upon all those who came from Italy during the period 1-9 March to contact the nearest Police Station or keep Hot Line 117 or 1390 informed of their whereabouts for onward arrangements.
Here follows the video of the discussion;