GR warns of consequences if longer lockdown enforced

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today warned of the consequences the public will need to face if a longer lockdown is enforced.

Addressing the nation, the President said that he agreed to enforce a brief lockdown from tonight (Friday).

However, he said that if a longer lockdown is enforced in future then the public will need to be prepared to make sacrifices.

He noted that a lockdown will damage the economy, including the tourism sector which is trying to revive.

The President called on the public to understand the situation the country is facing and help defeat the coronavirus. (Colombo Gazette)

Full speech:

The Most Venerable Maha Sangha,

Religious Leaders of other faiths,

Friends,

The accepted opinion of the World Health Organization (WHO), the majority of medical experts and according to the global standardized methodology is that the vaccination is the only solution for the COVID-19 pandemic.

That is why, I made a special commitment to bring in vaccines to Sri Lanka in the recent past. I personally spoke to the Heads of Governments in countries like China and India. I personally wrote letters to several other Heads of State. Discussions were held with vaccine producing countries through our Foreign Ministry, Ambassadors and High Commissioners. Our officials coordinated with vaccine manufacturing companies.

All these efforts were made because I wanted to vaccinate all the people of our country.

As a result of this effort, the country is now receiving a large number of vaccines that we need monthly.

Initially, we received the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India.

Afterwards, we were able to get the Sinopharm vaccine manufactured in China, but the administration of the vaccine to the public was delayed for about a month due to the delay in getting the vaccine approved by the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA). Nevertheless, the Government took measures to administer Sinopharm vaccine continuously since May 8 this year. In addition, we have received the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines from the United States, the AstraZeneca vaccines from Japan, and the Sputnik vaccines from Russia, placing us among the countries that administer the highest rates of COVID-19 vaccines to its people. As at the 19th of this month, a total of 12,019,193 vaccine doses have been administered as the First Dose.

Meanwhile, fifty one million twenty four thousand one hundred and eighty five (5,124,185) vaccines have been administered to the people as the Second Dose. In addition, we have approximately three million doses of vaccines to be given as the Second Dose. Another 3 million doses will be received later in this month. At present, about 98% of the people who are above the age of 30, have been vaccinated while 43% have been given the both doses. By August 31, more than 81% of the population will be able to receive the second dose. By 10th of September, 100% can receive both the doses.

With this development, the number of patients and the number of deaths will decrease.

The Government took steps to vaccinate all frontline health workers, persons engaged in essential services such as ports, security services, and factory workers by giving them the priority. People over the age of 60 were also vaccinated by giving them the priority. In addition, more than a million factory workers under the age of 30 were also vaccinated.

We continue to follow the restrictive measures such as imposition of inter-provincial travel restrictions across the country, isolation of Grama Niladhari Divisions, imposition of curfew, summoning only the essential public service employees to work, halting the functions like weddings, closure of certain businesses, ban on inter-provincial travel and prohibition of gatherings at places of worship.

We were able to successfully manage the first wave of the COVID-19 virus due to the actions that we took at that time. Such stern decisions had to be made at that time because there were no other options available at that time.

The country has to be placed under a complete lockdown for several months continuously. Through all these efforts, we were able to overcome the first COVID-19 wave.

Though we took measures to place the country under a lockdown occasionally, we should understand the consequences of this decision.
The lowest economic growth of the country since Independence was seen during the first wave of COVID-19 as a result of placing the country under a lockdown.

Especially, the apparel sector that brought in a revenue of about USD 5 billion to Sri Lanka was gravely affected. Their orders were stopped. Many lost their jobs. Export earnings fell.

Our tourism industry, which generated over USD 4.5 billion and provided a livelihood to over 3 million people, completely collapsed. Hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost.

The occasional lockdown of the country dealt a severe blow to the construction industry. They are not able to bring in employees they require. It is not possible to obtain the raw material at the required time. Over the past one and half years, we have lost most of the expected local and foreign investments in this sector.

Small and medium enterprises are another important sector of our local economy. The COVID-19 pandemic was a major obstacle for these businesses that contribute more than 50% of the GDP. Due to the continuous disruption of their business activities, these companies lost revenue and faced grave issues without being able to repay their loans or pay salaries.

Those who obtained leases for vehicles could not pay the installments. Housing loan borrowers could not settle the loan installments.

Addition to this, close to 4.5 million self-employed personnel and daily wage earners became helpless since they lost their sources of income completely.

Amidst all these obstacles, we also had the responsibility to keep the people alive. We did not abdicate that responsibility.

Each time the country was placed under a lockdown due to COVID-19 risks, we spend around Rs. 30 billion in each round to provide an allowance of Rs. 5,000 to the people who have become helpless without a daily income. The government has borne this cost on a number of occasions.

In addition to the cost of quarantine centres maintained by the government, each family quarantined in their own homes is provided with a relief package worth Rs. 10,000 for two weeks.

Even under this dire situation, the government has never taken any action to reduce the salaries or curtail the allowances of more than 1.4 million public servants.

Though our foreign exchange earnings dropped, we did not default on the government’s loan installments. We had to pay a colossal loan installment of about USD 4 billion a year as a result of the loans obtained by various governments in the past. All these loan installments were settled on time.

The country’s economy would be in great crisis if the country was put under another complete lockdown. It is not a situation that this country can bear. A large number of orders have been received by the apparel industry in the export sector. If we are not able to deliver these orders on time, we may lose a large amount of foreign exchange.

We are also making great efforts to rebuild the collapsed tourism industry. At the moment, nearly 200 tourists enter the country on daily basis.  If we close down the country, we will have to restart attracting tourists from the very beginning.

Moreover, by having to provide relief to the daily income earners, small and medium enterprises and companies once again due to a lockdown, the country’s economy will be gravely affected. The people should understand the impact of a complete lockdown. Today, except for a few countries, most others including economically powerful ones have fully opened up.

The tourism industry in the world is gradually recovering. The countries that are open today are taking advantage of that opportunity. Our country, which has a small economy should also take advantage of this opportunity. We can’t allow the country’s economy to collapse completely by refusing to take required action.

However, I have decided to impose a lockdown from 10 pm today till 4 am on 30th Monday of this month in order to contain the increase of COVID patients.

This situation is not a rivalry or conflict between different ideologists, trade unions, doctors, other health officials and the government. We have to understand the reality. This is a serious issue that the whole world faces. Today, all the countries are adapting to the method of ‘New Normal’. As a government, we have properly taken all necessary measures that need to be taken.

Although the government does everything it can to provide oxygen, establish intermediate treatment centers and administer vaccines, it is the role of the doctors to manage patients appropriately. Also, I highly appreciate the service rendered by the doctors, nurses and all other health sector officials so far, despite the risk to their lives. I also pay my respects to the health sector officials belonging to all ranks who have sacrificed their lives.

It is clear that this is not a time for strike actions and protests. Do not attempt to destabilize the country.

Although the health sector looks at this issue from one angle, as a government we will have to manage the small economy in our country if we are to continue to pay off foreign debts, pay salaries, and provide subsidies without any interruption.

Most of the people passed away from COVID-19 virus are over the age of 60. The majority of people out of them have been suffering from chronic diseases for a long time. And, they have not been vaccinated. People with these chronic diseases should seek treatment as soon as they develop COVID-19 symptoms. Therefore, I have advised the health sector to conduct Rapid Antigen Tests at least once a week targeting the people over 60 years who are suffering from chronic diseases.

I request everyone in the country to be prepared to make more sacrifices, if the country is to be placed under a lockdown for a longer period of time in the future.

At this crucial juncture, everyone should take the country forward strategically by acknowledging the gravity of the situation.

Therefore, I respectfully request everyone to work together in unity as a team to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

May the triple gem bless you!

15 COMMENTS

  1. To revive the tourist industry the virus has to be controlled. How many ‘half-wits’ does the President think; want to travel to Sri Lanka and be stranded here if they contract the virus ? Everyone in the West is acutely aware that their governments will not let them back in if they are Covid positive.

  2. Oh my god the more this lunatic talks the more we fear for our country… We have give power to an absolute moron to lead our country!

  3. Clearly, Sri Lanka is under attack…

    We all have seen the chaos in Afghanistan. Thousands of people were packed outside of Kabul airport to leave and more than 650 people cramped into a cargo plane. However, we did not hear anything about COVID 19 cases. But in Sri Lanka COVID 19 is spreading like a wildfire. Remember, few weeks ago Britain warned its travellers about terrorism in Sri Lanka but later on it withdrew the terror alert, because COVID 19 started to spread.

    Sri Lanka is under attack for leaning towards China. The Americans are behind the COVID 19 for two main reasons. First reason is to undermine the global economy, if you don’t have a job, simply you don’t have money to buy Chinese products, so China cannot grow quickly. Second reason is massively populated developing countries will use the people to make wealth like China did. Therefore, eliminating the population is extremely vital to keep the West’s world dominant power.

    • Antany, clearly you must be on drugs! Go talk to the families who have lost loved ones before you spread these tinfoil hat conspiracies…

      How do idiots like you still not know Covid19 is real even after people around you are dying of it!??

      • Hey fool, I never said it wasn’t real. I said it was deliberately spread by the West, because Sri Lanka is leaning towards China. You can’t understand my two paragraphs comment and your media is not wise enough to delete your foolish comment. Your stupidity will lead to far worse disaster than current situation. I am sorry for being honest.

        • So the West is running our country?

          If so what are the policies doing?

          They have no power to lockdown the travel to?

          Listen to yourself “ I said it was deliberately spread by the West, because Sri Lanka”

          You forgot where the virus originated!?

          Take your misinformation somewhere else. Don’t try to fool people and demand that we are censored by media when you get caught spreading your tinfoil hat misinformation…

          • Point less talking with fools like you. South Asia’s legacy is multiplying foolls. There are millions like you. How many talented people were assassinated during the civil war in Sri Lanka? Thanks to fools like you. It started killing Gandhi and you carry on. Talented people are not getting assassinated now days in South Asia because they move to foreign countries. It is done, South Asian has no chance. Wait and see how India turn into a disaster by COVID 19 and terrorism. India’s biggest sin is killing Gandhi and going behind the West. Indians will regret for generations.

  4. The problem is, majority people do not know how Americans came up to dominate the world. This is why they can’t understand how far America would go to keep the power. The Americans invaded others’ homelands on genocides and systematically covered up killing 100 – 200 million people. Here is Australia nobody acknowledges convict setllers’ systematic genocides. In Tasmania, entire Aboriginal people were eliminated, but the Australian political elites denied the facts.

    I am constantly under attack due to my writings. I can not rent an apartment. I am only allowed to get a shared accommodation, so convicts can attack me freely. If I go out, I don’t keep my food items, shampoo or body wash in my room. I always take it with me, even when I sleep I keep these items next me. I am constantly under attack, but I carry on. My legacy is ‘the First overseas born coloured man fought against the people who don’t live in their own country.’

    Yesterday, Facebook has blocked me from posting or commenting for 30 days because of the following post. Facebook said that my post doesn’t meet community standards. The truth is they don’t want the majority world getting wise, otherwise impossible to dominate billions of people.

    Here is my post…

    Indians are not wise compare to Chinese.

    The West devided India and used them to kill Gandhi then started to influence India. Indians think they have got independence but the West control them. Gandhi’s mission was failed, because Britain is too good. Indians don’t understand their opponents because they are not wise. If they are wise they would not turned Tamils as terrorists. What so good about destroying Sri Lanka? Is this how they beat the West? If the democracy will help them to come up, the West would not have introduced to them. In India almost every vote has been bought on a bribe. Indians have fake democracy, they are fooling themselves and the West loves it. Indians have been fooled for a long time by the West. Indians basically think that Google CEO Sundar Pichai and US Vice president Kamala Harris going to develop India. Indians are utter fools, if Pichai and Kamala put India before the US, they would not have got these high profile positions. Think of the merit and honesty of Indian and Sri Lankan leaders in the 1940s. If those leaders cannot progress the country, how can the current corrupt leaders advance the country? I am supporting China because I know very well that South Asia has no chance. I am smarter than Former Sri Lankan foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in geopolitics. I did not give up my family life in vain. I am persevering to achieve something, and I will in due time.

    Taliban was trained and equipped by the CIA to defeat Russia. The LTTE was trained and equipped by India to control Sri Lanka then the West hijacked the LTTE from India to impose the Western interests in the Indian Ocean. The Taliban and LTTE were fighting the proxy wars. Gandhi didn’t fight for other countries, Nelson Mandela didn’t fight for other countries, and Martin Luther King Junior didn’t fight for other countries, because they were wise leaders. They understand the difference between proxy war and freedom fight. Only fools believe proxy war as a freedom fight. Tamils have suffered for their stupidity. Afghanistan people are suffering for their stupidity and Indians will suffer for their stupidity by insulting Gandhi and going behind the West. The fate of India is exactly the same as its brainchild Tamil armed groups. I always worked on to give back to India for turning Tamils as terrorists. I never thought it will come so quickly. The people who don’t live in their own country facing difficulties to dominate the world(Five Eyes countries). And the corrupt and foolish leaders(New Delhi) who insulting Gandhi, turned Tamils as terrorists and running behind the West starting to understand their fate.

  5. Does this government want more people to get Covid19 so that they can make money off overpriced PCR test kits and Chinese vaccinations!???

    Who are the 2/3 fools who voted for the biggest criminals in Sri Lankan politics??

    • The country needs tough policies. Every South Asian must read.

      Policies to create wealth…

      In Jaffna I have seen half of the population do not work, but the country is importing rice and other food items. The democratic system has betrayed the country. Under the democratic system you can not force the people to work. Thus, you can not force the people to work in farms or factories to reduce the cost of production to make your country as a world factory. Because people have rights to protest. Clearly, democratic system will not work in poor countries. It will work if you have best brains to invent new technologies to make money and powerful enough to invade other countries to rip off others’ resources. But South Asia is weak in military and it cannot invade other countries for resources. It should use the population to create wealth. Forcing the people to work in some sectors, agriculture and manufacturing to build the economy.

      Policies to reduce the cost.

      The government should implementing one child policy for the time being to cut the costs. Country needs technical skills to become competitive with the developed countries. This can be done by building technical colleges by saving money from on high schools and health care budgets by reducing the population. However, the corrupt and foolish South Asian leaders will not make tough decisions. They rather keep the people lazy to get votes by living on loans. The corrupt leaders are extremely wealthy, no need to change anything. Even if they are ready to charge the policies, it is too late. The COVID 19 is here to make sure that massively populated countries should not become successful using the people as China does. The West will be in last, if India, South America and Africa follow China and use the people to create wealth. This is why the West will use the climate change to reduce the population.

      In geopolitics you must do the right things before your enemy thinks your strategy will benefit you. Otherwise, your enemy will do everything to spoil your strategy, especially if your enemy is mighty powerful. The West is already feel the pain of China’s success. Indians are daydreaming that the West will make India wealthy and powerful.

      • This kind of thinking in politics is exactly why Sri Lanka for decades has been a victim of brain drain with our best minds leaving to Democratic nations.

        Developed nations benefit from stupid thinking like this! We created the situation that is chasing our intellectuals away by allowing authoritarian governments take control of our nation.

        We have a government that doesn’t even listen to intellectuals because they can’t understand a thing of what they have to offer.

        We don’t need so called “tough policies” or “Tough Politicians” we need intelligent ones who know how to govern with complex systems of governance like Democracy.

        • Fool you deserve to be defeated, especially your Indian big brothers. It is coming, your foolishness and laziness will eat you :–)))

          Asisn intellectuals will never allow western puppets in Asia. Either you or us. We know who are the winners :—)))

          • Western puppets like our President Gota the US dictator? But you are too blind to see that for sure.

            He is doing a jolly good job isn’t he?

            All the Sri Lankan youth have gotten jobs abroad and gone. None of the educated want anything to do with the country because of people like you driveing our country into the gutter…

            And the few who try to develop Sri Lanka donkeys like you call them diaspora, traitors and chase them away because of your inferiority complex.

            More are leaving and the country is falling apart.

            And lunatics like you are dreaming about imaginary western puppet leaders…

          • Dear Sunil,

            I would not surprise if you are a convict with a fake profile name. You can fool South Asians, but not me. By reading your words I can tell you are not born in Sri Lanka.

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