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Sri Lanka Proactive Intervention Against COVID-19

Monday, 31st May 2021

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka and his countrymen and women have been fighting the corona pandemic under the banner of a proactive intervention to prevent any outbreak of COVID-19 within Sri Lanka, since the virus hit the shores of this south-Asian country in 2020.With rising COVID cases and deaths the President established a National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID19 Outbreak (NOCPCO ). Rajapaksa galvanised a highly coordinated national response consisting of preparations and actions throughout government and non-government sectors of this emerald jewel ravaged by COVID.

It is a war which has seen Sri Lanka deploy her military, police and intelligence agencies on the critical tasks of not only preventing the virus from getting into the country, but of containing it wherever it may be found; in order to prevent any further spread of the pandemic. The military, police and intelligence are the first of the four lines of operations against the virus, the other three being: the medical and health front, the psychological front and the battle to save the economy. Under the military, police and intelligence front, the main struggle consists of the three processes of detection, isolation and tracing which are the principal tasks of the military and paramilitary agencies .

The second of the four lines of operations is medical and health care, which relies  heavily on early detection; and contributes to winning the COVID battle by isolating and providing treatment to affected persons while tracing all their contacts through the aegis of primary healthcare staff. Testing, health surveillance and continuous monitoring are bedrocks of this critical process. Having the community fully apprised of COVID-19  and its situation in the country constitutes the third of the lines of operation against the pandemic in Sri Lanka. This is a very important psychological operation which is crucial in building public confidence and consolidating solidarity in the national struggle against the pandemic. The rallying cry of this psychological front is Life First. The fourth line of operations against corona in Sri Lanka is fought on the battleground of the economy. In this struggle, Sri Lanka is weighing her grim economic prospects against the immediate well-being of the population who demand uninterrupted food supplies and medicines.

Due to these challenges, the country is highly synchronized in her anti-COVID response; typified by high-level coordination and cooperation between line ministries and government departments and agencies; as well as local government systems and the private sector. It is this level of organisation that had earned the country some early gains such as the immunization of over one million people by May. It has also helped Sri Lanka cope with the mid-May 2021 surge; which necessitated a lockdown. Now the country is fighting to bring surge levels down assisted by the four lines of operation; and by an intensified country-wide vaccination recently launched by Government. Earlier, thanks to warm bilateral relations with India, the country received a donation of 500,000 Indian vaccine in a spirit of friendship and solidarity. Last week Sri Lanka got another anti-COVID boost through a World Bank loan of $8.5 million. This money will come in handy as she launches a high-gear immunization drive for the remainder of her 21 million people.