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Mullaitivu locals protest against using schools as quarantine centres for army personnel

Parents, staff and locals in Mullaitivu have protested against Sri Lanka military using schools in Mullaitivu to construct quarantine centres for army personnel suspected of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Around 60 parents of students at Muththuiyankaddu school in Oddusuddan, Mullaitivu led a safe protest in front of the school, where they observed social distancing measures, yesterday evening.  

This school is among a few selected to be converted into quarantine centres for those suspected of having COVID-19 and advised to isolate. Yesterday morning, these schools had their furniture and documents cleared out and stored in an allocated house to accommodate the army personnel, where they are expected to be regularly monitored.

Several schools in Mullaitivu such as Alampil Roman Catholic Maha Vidyalayam, Visuvamadu Maha Vidyalayam, Iranaipalai Roman Catholic Maha Vidyalayam and Kulamurippu school are currently being prepared to be converted into quarantine centres.

One of the locals expressed her discontent at the decision;

“This school is where our children study. This is where our children are able to get into universities and further education where they can become doctors, engineers, teachers and get good government jobs. Therefore, we will not allow the school to be used for quarantine purposes because it will jeopardise the safety of the building and we do not want our children to return here,” she said.

The impending implementation of the quarantine centres poses many safety concerns for the locals;

“Furthermore, the building is an agricultural hotspot. There is water links around the building that is used for agriculture purposes and a lot of people rely on it to cope with the struggles of the curfew. The people quarantined in the area will most likely use the water supply, they will litter and this may be passed on by stray dogs which makes the spreading of the disease a grave threat. Therefore, we demand they are not allowed to set up quarantine at these schools,” she added.

Another local pointed out that the residential homes in close distance to these schools will have their safety compromised as a result of this proposal, and urged the quarantine centres to be built in areas such as forests or desolate land where there are no people living nearby, to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. 

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