Former Prime Minister and Leader of the United National Party (UNP) Ranil Wickremesinghe, making a special statement today (14) on the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, urged the government to prioritise saving people's lives over the economy.

"At this moment, I would like to request the government to save the lives of people. We can rebuild the economy but we won't be able to recover from damages caused to people's lives. It is the duty of this government to protect its citizens," he said.

Speaking further, the former Prime Minister said;

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"The Covid-19 pandemic is spreading rapidly in Sri Lanka. In India, another black fungus has been detected in patients. We have to safeguard our people from all these threats. 

The Colombo office of the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement following discussions with a number of our medical experts recently. According to this announcement, they have predicted that the COVID-19 virus will spread rapidly in the country in the next few weeks.

We should be mindful of one more fact. There is a shortage of vaccines in our country. It may be the end of this year or even next year for all the people of Sri Lanka to be vaccinated. Until then the people of the country must be protected.

It is the government's duty to take heed of medical expert's advice. If expert opinion is to lockdown the country, we’ll have to do that. We can review the situation weekly. I don't know if there is any other alternative.

The continued spread of the pandemic is a death blow to an already weak economy. Therefore, the spread of Covid-19 must be contained. If we are able to do that, we can minimize the damage to the economy.

I urge the government to save the lives of the people of this country. We can repair the damage to the economy but the damage caused to life cannot be repaired. It is the duty of the government to protect the lives of the people."