Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, head of the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of COVID-19 (NOCPC), announced the decision to extend the curfew and keep people indoors for 10 days in order to contain the spread of the virus.
Colombo (Asia News) – Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo, has called on Sri Lankan Catholics to ask for the intercession of Our Lady because the whole country is in danger from the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic.
“Let us turn to Our Lady in prayer, seeking her blessings to protect the country and its people from this pandemic,” he said.
Today, the 22nd death from COVID-19 was reported. The western province is completely locked down. In some temples, Buddhist monks are chanting the "Rathana Suthraya”.
Archbishop Ranjith said that at present Sri Lanka faces a challenge. The virus is spreading rapidly because people are not ready to maintain discipline, not ready to follow the rules, not ready to uphold health guidelines. People do what they want unconcerned about the situation.
"An immense commitment by the health sector, the security forces and the government protected the country last time,” the cardinal said in his homily during the Mass broadcast yesterday at noon on Verbum TV.
“Our people did not heed that warning,” he lamented. “This is why we are facing so much destruction today. In this situation, the whole of Sri Lanka can be destroyed.”
“Our lives don't belong to us alone. We belong to our society and we have responsibilities to fulfill, those that God has given us. Therefore, we should lead our lives in the proper way as law-abiding citizens.”
In a separate video message, the Archbishop of Colombo urged his fellow citizens, especially Catholics, to closely follow all health guidelines in order to curtail the spread of the virus.
"We have already lost many lives and many people have been affected. Their lives have been shattered. There is an economic crisis all over the world, and many people have lost their jobs causing a lot of suffering”.
For the prelate, "It is our responsibility to cooperate as much as possible with the authorities to curtail the spread of this disaster. We cannot afford to let this situation drag on or deteriorate.”
Archbishop Ranjith also urged Catholics to return to prayer as this is the most powerful tool in difficult times like now.
"I appeal to all Catholics to turn to the Most Holy Mother, asking her to intercede for us before God. It has been proven over time how she intervened for us and helped us.
“This is why in April we addressed a special prayer to her in the basilica of Our Lady of Lanka, consecrating this country to her, and asking her to intercede on our behalf.
“I ask all our Catholic brothers and sisters to pray to her and join us in our effort to raise our voices to plead with God.”
Over the weekend, a special 24-hour live prayer service was held; it included the rosary, Mass, special prayers, a call for protection from the pandemic, and was broadcast on Seth FM radio as well as Facebook and Radio Veritas.
The archbishop urged Catholics to join special daily spiritual programmes asking for divine intervention, which are available on Verbum TV, a Catholic channel, and on social media. He also asked them to recite the Blessed Mother's special prayer at 6.30 am and 6.30 pm.
With the same aim of "invoking blessings on the country", groups of Buddhist monks last Saturday began reciting the "Rathana Suthraya" for a week.
According to the head of the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of COVID-19 (NOCPC), Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, the largest number of people affected by the coronavirus were reported yesterday in the Western Province, mainly in the districts of Gampaha, Colombo and Kalutara.
Because of this, “the NOCPC decided that extending the curfew and keeping people indoors for 10 days will help contain the spread of the virus,” he said.