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Expats guard against coronavirus

Indian and Sri Lankan missions have launched extensive awareness campaigns and alerts among their nationals about the rapidly spreading Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
Sri Lanka has alerted its missions in the Middle East to take precautionary measures among its expatriates in the region.
Mangala Randeniya, spokesman of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), told Arab News from Colombo that the bureau has alerted all its overseas missions about the deadly virus.
“Even though not a single Sri Lankan has been affected so far, we, as a government, are tasked with alerting our overseas workers,” Randeniya said.
There are 1.5 million Sri Lankans living in the Middle East and nearly one third of them are in the Kingdom, he said.
“Colombo International Airport has been alerted to take note of any arriving passenger suspected to be infected with the coronavirus,” he said. “Our SLBFE desk at the airport will identify such incoming passengers and provide them with immediate medical treatment.”
Paba Palihawadana, chief epidemiologist at the Health Ministry’s Epidemiology Unit, said the authorities have put in place a mechanism to create awareness among community members. “There are educational programs conducted through the Bureau of Foreign Employment, travel agencies and Sri Lankan embassies to ensure that travelers and workers to the region are aware of the risks,” she said.
The Indian Social Forum in Jeddah (ISFJ) has launched a coronavirus awareness campaign to raise public understanding about the virus among its nationals. The forum organized a series of camps in Jeddah and other parts of Western Province with the support of the Ministry of Health.
Acting Indian Consul General Mohammed Shaikh inaugurated the campaign on Friday.
Muneera Balahmar, director of health education and community medicine consultant at the Health Ministry, gave a detailed overview about the virus and ways to prevent its spread.
Forum President Ashraf Morayur said the campaign would focus on areas of large gatherings in Jeddah, a port of arrival for thousands of pilgrims.

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