By Admiral Jayanath Colombage
With a total population of 22 million and a land area of 65000 square km, the island of Sri Lanka was monitoring the developing situation regarding the spread of Coronavirus, or Covid -19. The President immediately established a National Action Committee to implement health measures to prevent the spread of deadly Coronavirus in Sri Lanka. This was one of the first in our region and done on January 26, 2020 when the news of the virus spreading in Wuhan in China came to light. These preemptive measures were established well ahead of our region being impacted by the Coronavirus.
The Action Committee consisted of the Minister of Health as the chair, secretaries of health, defence and officials from Governor of Western Province, Presidential secretariat, Ministry of Health, specialist doctors such as epidemiologists, virologists, Members of Government Medical Officers Association, Scientists- microbiology and nano technology, Airport Aviation, Ports Authority, Department of Immigration and Emigration, Sri Lanka Armed Forces.
The immediate task of this Action Committee was to commence health surveillance at airports, seaports and fisheries. On January 27, 2020, the first case of the Coronavirus was detected in Sri Lanka. It was a lady from China’s city of Wuhan and hospitalized in Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH). This lady was released on February 14, 2020 after getting completely cured and sent back to China. Twelve hospitals were declared as suitable for caring of possible Coronavirus affected cases across the country. The developing situation was closely monitored and analysed in the world whilst maintaining medical surveillance at our airports, seaports and fisheries ports. Many scientists, microbiologists in R&D, worked to manufacture PPEs in Sri Lanka and to develop ventilator machines to provide oxygen. Currently, the number of positive Corona cases has risen to 53. There are a number of Quarantine centres, which accommodate about 2000 people who have returned from high-risk areas such as Italy, South Korea. The situation is being monitored and appropriate steps taken to prevent further spread of the virus.
The views expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of DKI APCSS, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.