Minister Dinesh Gunawardena explores possibilities to assist Sri Lankan Migrant workers

10 April 2020

Minister of Foreign Relations, Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations, Dinesh Gunawardena met with the Secretaries and senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the Ministry of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations and the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), today (10 April 2020), at the Ministry of Foreign Relations, to discuss ramifications emanating from the present Corona virus pandemic to Sri Lankan migrant workers abroad and to explore possible mechanisms to assist these Sri Lankans.

Minister Gunawardena referring to approximately over 1 million Sri Lankan migrant workers, who are employed largely in the Middle East, South East Asia, East Asia, Europe, and Africa regions stated that the interests of these Sri Lankans need to be looked into by the two Ministries. During the meeting, he specifically drew the attention of the senior officials to the needs of the migrant workers, who are employed in the Gulf region. Minister Gunawardena said that measures taken by the host countries in this region to curb the spread of the Corona virus has adversely affected the migrant workers and instructed senior officials to explore solutions to these implications.

The issues of unregistered migrant workers under the SLBFE, those who have recently lost their jobs and issues relating to remittances, were discussed at the meeting, to explore practical solutions, so those migrant workers of Sri Lanka could be assisted well during this challenging time. The Foreign Minister also said that the Government of Sri Lanka would take every possible step to assist and safeguard the rights and well-being of Sri Lankan migrant workers all over the world.

Foreign Secretary  Ravinatha Aryasinha, Secretary to the Ministry of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations,   D.M. Sarath Abayagunawardana and other Senior Officials who attended the meeting  shared their views and insights on the current situation of migrant workers and emphasized that the two Ministries will work closely for the betterment of the migrant workers.


Ministry of Foreign Relations                                                                                                                                                                               



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Foreign Secretary Aryasinha outlines role and preparations of the Ministry and its missions in tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic

05 April 2020

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha has outlined the role and preparations of the Ministry of Foreign Relations and its missions across the world, in helping Sri Lanka tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing concerns of Sri Lankan nationals overseas. Referring to Sri Lankan citizens abroad, he said “parents here in Sri Lanka, should rest a little bit more comfortably about their children, knowing that the Embassy is a phone call away and if there are issues on the ground, that our Missions abroad will deal with it” and that “if there is a real calamity, the Government of Sri Lanka will step in”. He said while dealing with the immediate concerns at hand, the Ministry and Missions are working hard “to anticipate and prepare for any difficulties ahead, and to further map out what we do the day after this problem is solved, particularly on the economic front”.

The Foreign Secretary made these observations, in a wide-ranging interview with Indeewari Amuwatte, on the ‘Hyde Park’ programme of Ada Derana 24, on 4 April 2020


Full interview: 


The Airport Arrival Terminal Continues to be closed for Passengers

04 April 2020 


Flights with Passengers may leave Sri Lanka

Ports operations continue uninterrupted


To prevent imported new cases of the Corona virus in the country, the Government decides to indefinitely extend the closure of the arrival terminal at the Airport.

The departure terminal will continue to be operational. Also flights are allowed into the country to take the departing passengers. All passenger transit operations have been stopped for the moment.

All import and export operations are to continue without interruption.

The Government has decided to continue with these the restrictions until the country returns to normalcy.


Mohan Samaranayake

Director General President’s Media Division


22 March 2020

Antiviral properties of tea: Black Tea may become the unique brew of choice with no side effects to fight against Corona virus?

4 April 2020


Is there any silver lining in the dark cloud for ‘Ceylon Tea’? The Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka (TRI) has released a scientific paper under the theme: ‘Anti-viral’ properties of tea - black tea may become the unique brew of choice with no side effects to fight against Corona Virus? ".

Low incidence of infected patients:

Sri Lankans habitually consume 03 to 04 cups of Ceylon Black Tea. Therefore, in addition to epidemic control measures and social distancing and hot local temperatures (between 26°C-32°C), the practice of drinking tea may also contribute to the low incidence of infected patients with coronavirus. The infected case and the cases per million people in Sri Lanka are comparatively low. It could be due to a combination of multiple reasons, which certainly requires in-depth investigation.

Power of Ceylon Black Tea as a potential booster:

Several studies are ongoing globally in search of therapeutic options to recognize ‘anti-viral’ agents which could treat patients affected by COVID 19. However, “prevention is better than cure”. TRI has made a genuine effort to investigate the "Power of Ceylon Black Tea" as a potential booster to aid one’s immune system to fight against the virus when confronted. 

Several studies undertaken in different countries have demonstrated the potential benefits of Black & Green Tea consumption in controlling influenza and common cold generally caused by viral infections. Tea Catechins have the ability to bind onto the surface of the influenza virus and inhibit the spread. TRI has quoted a recently conducted research study from Taiwan where the chemical structure of 64 compounds had been bioinformatically modelled against SARS-CoV- 2.

Black tea has ‘theaflavins’:

It had been revealed that ‘Theaflavins’ could potentially inhibit a critical SARS-CoV- 2 enzyme, and thereby, theoretically inhibit COVID-19. Theaflavins are antioxidant polyphenols that are formed during enzymatic oxidation process (fermentation) in the manufacture of Black Tea. In contrast to Green Tea, Black Tea is rich in Theaflavins due to the manufacturing process. An alkaloid, found in tea is Theaflavins, a chemical shown to alleviate respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and other lung diseases. It relaxes and opens air passages in the lungs making it easier to breathe.

Inhaling the fumes (steam) of hot black tea:

The TRI release has highlighted that, inhaling boiling water mixed with Black Tea can facilitate the clearing of the passages towards the lungs. As the COVID-19 epidemic is a similar illness where the patients find it difficult to breathe. The scientists at the Sri Lanka Tea Board Laboratory suggest that frequent consumption of hot black tea is capable of flushing viruses trapped in the throat area. This practice is believed to improve immune capacity and inhibit inflammation due to Catechins and Polyphenols contained in Black Tea. Further, inhaling the fumes (steam) of hot black tea at high temperatures facilitates the removal of viruses trapped around the nasal area and opens a pathway for the tea Theaflavins to reach the lungs and protect it from viruses. 

Drink Black tea good for immune system:

It could be assumed in respect of the circumstantial evidence available that daily consumption of Black Tea (03 to 04 cups without sugar or milk) is very useful and linked to the boosting of the immune system of normal human beings against respiratory diseases. The COVID-19 is an influenza-like illness which could be perceived to be curtailed by Theaflavins, one of the most active ingredients in Black Tea as explained in this review.  

Please note that Black Tea is neither a medically proven prophylaxis nor a treatment against COVID-19, but it is worth conducting further research to investigate the possible anti-viral benefits of Theaflavins in Black Tea against COVID-19. Clinical trials however, need to be initiated prior to claiming benefits against COVID-19 in humans. It is premature to make concrete claims until in-vivo experiments or Research & Development on living cells are undertaken as per WHO guidelines. Nevertheless, Sri Lankans strongly believe that Ceylon Tea, the miracle Black Tea beverage is certainly one of them. 


The relevant scientific papers are available with the Sri Lanka Tea Board for any references. 

(Courtesy of Sri Lanka Tea Board/ 03/04/20)



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Minister Gunawardena explores practical solutions to assist expatriate communities with Foreign Ministry Officials

3 April 2020

Foreign Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena met with senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Relations today at the Ministry to discuss about the welfare of the Sri Lankan expatriate communities, difficulties currently being faced by these communities and ways to explore practical solutions to assist expatriate communities at this time of need.

Earlier this week, taking note of the growing concerns of the Overseas Sri Lankans amidst the rapid spread of COVID- 19 and their inability to immediately return to Sri Lanka, the Ministry had discussed with Sri Lanka Missions abroad ongoing & further measures to ensure the well being and safety of Overseas Sri Lankans.

In discussing issues of migrant workers, especially in the Middle Eastern countries, the Minister directed the senior officials of the Ministry to work closely with the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) to find appropriate solutions to such issues.

Foreign Minister Gunawardena also highlighted the importance of maintaining economic and trade relations between Sri Lanka and other countries during this period. He advised the officials to take necessary actions to explore new markets for Sri Lankan products, especially for Tea and to consolidate existing markets for Sri Lankan products such as apparel.

Foreign Minister Gunawardena appreciated the services of senior officials of the Ministry, including staff of Sri Lankan Overseas Missions, and their dedication during this difficult period. Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha, Additional Secretaries, Directors General and other senior officials attended the meeting.


Ministry of Foreign Relations                                                                                                                                                            


03 April 2020

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