COVID 19 Sri Lanka’s Response: Ground Level Assessment on People’s Perspective
Sri Lanka confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on January 27, 2020, but the first large outbreak did not occur until mid-March in the same year. The request made by the leader of the opposition in the Parliament to provide face masks to citizens and to impose lock down was flatly rejected by the Minister of Health. While she was replying to the Leader of the Opposition on 24 January 2020, she said that as a “responsible government, we do not see any reason to fear on Covid19 spreading into Sri Lanka and we do not see the need to provide face masks to citizens.” (TV coverage of the Parliamentary proceedings on 24 January 2020). The governing party’s total emphasis was seen to conduct the general elections in April 2020 and therefore, they down played the potential threats of the infection. However, The government waited until a large scale of outbreak in March 2020 to take preventing initiatives. The government reacted swiftly by closing the airport and halting all inbound and outbound travel. The initial outbreak led to an island-wide lockdown that lasted for almost two months during March and April, 2020; thereafter the restrictions were gradually relaxed. The lockdown was completely lifted after June 28. While in effect, the first national lockdown entailed near-total restrictions to movement.
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