No compulsion to wear masks - Minister | Daily News


No compulsion to wear masks - Minister

Schools can function as usual:

The Health Ministry or the Education Ministry has not advised anyone, including students to wear face masks in public or when attending school, Information and Communications Technology, Higher Education, Technology and Innovations Minister Dr.Bandula Gunawardena said.

Addressing a media briefing at the Government Information Centre yesterday, he said there is an unfounded fear among the people and children. He said that some persons are trying to capitalize on this situation and increase their sale of masks by publicising that the wearing of masks has been made mandatory. “Don’t believe these rumours and panic. In the event there is an emergency situation and it is required to wear these masks, then we will notify the people through the media,” he said.

Minister Gunawardena noted that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa are both very involved in ensuring the maximum protection and services in this issue. “However, the Health Ministry or the Education Ministry has not issued any instructions for students to wear masks when attending school. However, we have been notified that some parties have been spreading such statements and this is not a good thing. We will directly notify the schools and authorities if such a need arises. Moreover, there is no decision to close schools at this point.”

He urged the public not to be misled by rumors and fake news. “We have experienced worse epidemics than this and Sri Lanka has dealt with such situations effectively. We have had more deaths from dengue and other illnesses. This is not such a serious situation. So far only one person has been confirmed with coronavirus and we have taken all necessary precautions to ensure that this epidemic does not get out of hand, the minister assured.

Minister Gunawardena also pointed out that at this point of need Sri Lanka must stand-by China and assist them. “China has always stood by Sri Lanka through our good times and bad. Hence, we will do everything possible to assist them in their time of need. We are saddened by this situation China has to face. However, we have to take certain measures to safeguard our people from this virus and although it could cause some inconvenience, these steps have to be taken for the betterment of our people. I hope and pray that this endemic will soon be contained and all people would be able to live without fear.”

Education Ministry Secretary N.H.M.Chithrananda said they had a meeting with the Prime Minister and he had issued ordered to allow all media notifications to go through the PM’s office and the Health Ministry.

“There are some precautionary measures that need to be followed to prevent spreading or contracting the coronavirus or any other illness. One step is to constantly wash your hands, especially when you have been outdoors, and to always use a tissue when sneezing or if you have a cold or cough and dispose of these used tissues responsibly. One should also ensure that very little touching of the face or nose is done and to refrain from touching stray animals. Moreover, we also asked the school authorities not to stop any of the sports or school activities as this will create unnecessary fear and panic among the public.”

GMOA Representative Dr. Samantha Ananda addressing the media briefing said there is unwarranted fear and panic among the people over this coronavirus due to incorrect and fake news being spread through social media. Hence, he urged the media to report matters pertaining to this issue responsibly and refrain from reporting unverified news.

“The coronavirus is an infectious disease and the best we can do is to prevent contracting it as there is no known treatment for it. What can be done for those who have already contracted is the same treatment followed to treat those with the common viral flu. This virus has only spread in a certain part in China. Now it has spread to around 14 countries around the world, but only to a minimum level. In Sri Lanka so far there is only one confirmed case and that too is a Chinese national. She is stable and is not serious.There have been many other viruses such as SARS and MERS that spread earlier and many more deaths were reported. However, the coronavirus is not as deadly as the other viruses, but the rate of spreading is somewhat faster than the others. Therefore, although many infections are reported, there are fewer deaths than in previous epidemics.”

He said that there have been around 4500 reported cases confirmed with the coronavirus, but 95% of them are in China and that too only in this specific area. He said less than 60 cases have been reported outside of China.

He also said that the WHO is directly involved in this case and therefore, there is nothing to panic about. Dr. Ananda also noted that Sri Lanka has taken the right approach and followed the proper measures and that is the reason that they were able to detect this Chinese lady who had contracted the virus. He said Sri Lanka has deployed experts in the medical field at various capacities and asked that the public place their trust in them to ensure Sri Lankans are safeguarded. He also noted that a special action team has been established to monitor the Coronavirus worldwide and keep the local authorities updated on the latest situations. Further, thermal scanners are established at all airports and ports and medical teams are positioned to treat any patient or detect those infected.



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