Silva at a Sri Lankan military-run quarantine centre last year.
Public Health Inspectors (PHS) have reported that Sri Lanka has a higher rate of covid-19 infections compared to India on the basis of the country population.
The Colombo Gazette reports an average of 1900 positive cases per day in Sri Lanka since Tamil New year whilst across the whole of India, there was a reported 200,000 to 300,000 cases per day.
PHI association secretary, M. Baalasooriya, highlighted Sri Lanka is struggling with bed capacity in hospitals.
“Health authorities are unable to bridge the gap between newly detected patients and recoveries, resulting in an insufficient bed capacity at hospitals”, he stated.
This follows a decision by the head of Sri Lanka’s army Shavendra Silva who refused to implement a complete lockdown and maintained that “there is no need to panic”. This is despite the high number of new cases COVID and the confirmation that the UK variant was present in Sri Lanka and spreading.
Sri Lanka’s militarised response to the pandemic has been heavily criticised with Boram Jang, Legal Advisor at the International Commission of Jurists Asia & the Pacific Programme, stating that;
“The manner in which the Sri Lankan Government and the military have handled the recent outbreak among the workers has been deeply troubling… [the] absence of judicial oversight is in clear violation of basic COVID-19 regulations adhered by the Government. At the heart of all these problems lies a heavily militarised and politicised COVID-19 response”
Sri Lanka’s police have been seen dragging Tamils in Jaffna and forcing them into quarantine for allegedly not wearing masks or following social distancing measures.
This comes as Sri Lanka’s military has intensified its crackdown on the North-East with a series of arrests under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act. There have been a number of Tamils and Muslims arrested under the PTA including high profile political figures such as Jaffna's Mayor, Viswalingam Manivannan, as well as former Sri Lankan minister and leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC), MP Rishad Bathiudeen.