Intelligence units to trace contacts of COVID – 19 patients

Intelligence units to trace contacts of COVID – 19 patients

Intelligence units to trace contacts of COVID – 19 patients

Written by Staff Writer

18 Apr, 2020 | 1:22 pm

COLOMBO (News1st): Sri Lanka’s defence secretary on Friday said intelligence officers will obtain the assistance of telecommunication service providers to trace contacts and places visited by COVID-19 patients.

“We are doing this only to trace the people who have close connections with coronavirus infected persons and those who are still evading quarantine,” Major General Kamal Gunaratne said in an interview with the media unit of his ministry.

He added that intelligence units, with the assistance of software, will identify infected persons, and would hand over those details to the relevant authorities for further action.

The defence secretary brushed off allegations that the government did not react quickly to stem the spread of the virus in the south asian island which has reported 244 infections so far.

“I refute such allegations. There are people as a habit they criticise everything that a Government does,” he said.

Critics have blamed authorities for failing to set-up quarantine facilities and suspend flight arrivals immediately after the country’s first patient – a Chinese woman – tested positive for the virus on February 19.

Gunaratne said the Army had set-up quarantine facilities as quickly as they could when the government ordered those who arrived from Iran, South Korea and Italy to undergo quarantine.

However, he conceded that much attention could not be paid to those who arrived from coronavirus hit countries such as Italy, South Korea, and Iran between March 1 and 10.

“The Defence Ministry announced them through media to contact 119 giving them a deadline to get them registered for quarantine,” Gunaratne noted.

Sri Lanka had slapped a suspension on flight and passenger ship arrivals on March 22.

On the lines of those sharing false content on social media, the defence secretary warned that such users will be subjected to tough legal action by authorities.

“they cannot just escape as our intelligence agencies are fully alerted to identify them and direct them to law enforcement authorities,” he said.

Gunaratne noted that the government can lift the lockdown style curfew if the people adhere to the advice issued by health and security agencies.

The government is considering lifting the curfew restrictions which have been in effect for five weeks and has come under heavy fire for aiming to conduct the general election.

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