Hotel quarantine racket: Several persons express views on current situation (Video)

Tuesday, 14 September 2021 - 17:49

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The President of the Government Nurses' Association Saman Ratnapriya stated that it has become a racket to direct foreign workers to quarantine hotels when they arrive at the island.

He was commenting on the revelation made by the Hiru News team regarding the embezzlement of public funds through hotel quarantine.

Meanwhile, the Mass Media Minister stated that the relevant issue will be brought to the attention of the government authorities today (14).

We have recently revealed through Hiru News that passengers arriving in Sri Lanka from the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport are being directed to quarantine in hotels.

It is mandatory for foreigners as well as Sri Lankans to undergo a Covid test 72 hours prior to their arrival in Sri Lanka to confirm that they are not infected with COVID-19.

Despite this situation, they are being directed to quarantine hotels in order to embezzle the money of air travellers arriving in the country, causing them severe inconvenience.

This is how the hotel quarantine is being embezzled by charging separate fees for Covid tests as well as accommodation fees.

It is surprising that the Sri Lankan authorities continue to allow such massive embezzlement of public funds in a context where all facilities are available to conduct Rapid Antigen tests and PCR tests in a short period of time without any inconvenience to the public at the Katunayake Airport.

When we inquired about this, Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella stated that he was informed by the relevant authorities that only foreigners are being directed to quarantine hotels.

Doesn't it appear that the health authorities responsible for Sri Lankans coming to this country from abroad have misled even the Minister in charge of the subject and allowed this public money to be embezzled?

We also inquired about this from the Deputy Director-General of Health Services, Dr. Hemantha Herath.

Specialist Dr. Hemantha Herath - Deputy Director General of Health Services

"This is just part of a very complex process. Therefore, I think he is not paying direct attention at this moment. That's something that has been going on so far. Before they arrive in Sri Lanka, they decide a hotel of their choice to be quarantined, the same hotel has to provide transportation. So there is some kind of charge for transportation. All these are discussed with the hotel and only after the payment is finalized, they come to the hotel and get the work (tests) done."

Saman Ratnapriya - Chairman - Government Nurses Association

"It's really a business, this is a racket, When Sri Lankans arrive at the island they are put in a hotel for a day where the PCR will be done. About Rs.12,500 is spent on a PCR. The cost of a hotel has increased to around Rs. 12,500 and Rs. 25,000 have been embezzled in one day."

Ven. Jamburewela Chandraratana Thera - Chairman - 'Sinhale Api' National Organization

"In particular, we have seen through the Hiru News about the racket about exploiting Sri Lankans who arrive at the island from abroad, about the exploitation of their money for hotel quarantine, PCR's and food. The attitude of this government towards the migrant workers who send the foreign exchange to the country is a very despicable. That is what we have to say at this time."

Meanwhile, during the media briefing on Cabinet decisions held today (14), we inquired from the Mass Media Minister, Dullas Alahapperuma regarding the directing Sri Lankans who arrive from abroad for hotel quarantine.

Dullas Alahapperuma - Mass Media Minister

Question: Why are they being sent to quarantine centres when there are facilities at the airport for these tests, which could be done within four to five hours?

Answer: Thank you for pointing this out. We designed all these facilities inside the airport. The Airport Authority and all relevant Ministries made a great sacrifice for that. However, if such racket is going on, it's problematic. Until this moment, I can honestly tell you that there was no understanding of such a situation. We will pay attention in this regard within the day.

If you have been subjected to embezzlement through hotel quarantine, you can report any inconvenience by calling Hiru CIA through number 0770 322 821.