Lanka gears to meet deadly MERS virus from West Asia

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Even though no Sri Lankan working in West Asia had been affected so far by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome corona-virus (MERS-CoV), Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) said that it had launched extensive awareness campaigns to alert Sri Lankans living there to its danger.

SLBFE, Deputy General Manager and Media Spokesman Mangala Randeniya told The Island yesterday that the Bureau had alerted its missions in West Asia about the deadly virus and to take precautionary measures among Sri Lankans in the region.

There are 1.5 million Sri Lankans living in West Asia and nearly one third of them are in the Saudi Arabia, where the disease has already claimed more than 100 lives and stricken more than 330 people.

Randeniya maintained that not a single Sri Lankan had been affected so far, adding that the Colombo International Airport had been alerted to intercept any arriving passenger suspected to be infected with the corona virus.

Sri Lankans serving in West Asia were provided with face masks and advised to protect themselves from the virus under the instructions of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera.

According to the Bureau 50,000 face masks have been distributed and facilities provided for returnees to obtain medical assistance by presenting their passport in case they suspect that they have contracted the disease.

Meanwhile, according to reports many people from European countries as well as from countries such as the Philippines and Thailand have been affected by corona virus.

According to the Health Ministry all arrangements have been taken to prevent the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome corona virus (MERS-CoV) spreading to Sri Lanka and to manage the MERS virus successfully if it does enter the country.

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