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COVID-19 patients to be treated at NF hospital

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By Saman Indrajith

Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told Parliament yesterday that the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital in Malabe would be used to treat COVID-19 patients as one of the measures to face the current resurgence of the disease in the country.  The Minister said that on Oct 6, a total of 4,800 PCR tests had been conducted on the employees of Brandix Apparel Limited in Minuwangoda, close contacts of the employees and other associates related to them.

Besides, another 1,800 PCR tests had been conducted on people at random.

Responding to a question of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the Minister said: “We have taken all the possible measures to control the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. We do not transport COVID-19 patients and persons who have suspicious symptoms together. They are being sent to hospitals separately. Several hospitals have been allocated specifically to treat COVID-19 patients. Also, conducting random PCR tests in hospitals is being carried out as usual.”

Speaking about quarantining of hospital staff, the Minister said that all necessary measures had been taken to provide suitable places for them.

“We gave apartment type places to them first but we heard there were some issues. Last time hotels were used for this. I instructed the Ministry Secretary to make the same arrangements. Now, discussions are being held with suitable hotels for this purpose,” she said.

The Opposition raising a several Points of Order queried the minister as to why the quarantine curfew was not imposed on the Gampaha District as a whole.

The Minister said that decisions to impose curfew were taken following instructions of both health and security officials. The Government would not hesitate to impose their instructions at any given time, she said.

“That is an evolving process. We impose the curfew after finding patients in those areas. Otherwise, there will be no use,” she said.

SJB Galle District MP Manusha Nanayakkara said that there were rumors that the Brandix Apparel Limited bypassed the compulsory quarantine process and brought Indian workers to the factory. The Speaker advised Nanayakkara to make a complaint regarding the matter.

Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella requested a two day debate on the matter. The Speaker said that it would be discussed during the party leaders’ meeting.

 

 



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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