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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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Nightlife is essential without hindrance to other tourists, residents and businesses – Diana Gamage

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Minister of State for Tourism  Diana Gamage acknowledged that events that emanated noise should be conducted within a soundproof environment without causing any inconvenience or disturbance to other tourists who are here to relax, residents of the area and other businesses inasmuch its necessity to boost the economy by generating revenue.

She made this comment speaking at a press conference themed ‘Collective path to a stable country’ at the Presidential Media Centre today (22),

As debates continue regarding the regulation of nightlife, she urged stakeholders to consider the broader economic implications and the vital role that nightlife plays in driving economic activity and sustaining national finances. She further emphasized the importance of providing entertainment options to tourists, particularly in beach areas, which are major attractions for visitors. According to her, nightlife plays a crucial role in catering to the needs of tourists, not only in beach areas but also in urban centres like Colombo. The Minister noted that current regulations often restrict entertainment options, citing examples such as early last orders in hotels and restaurants, which may not align with the preferences of international tourists.

Drawing attention to the diverse origins of tourists, including those from the UK, France, and Germany, the State Minister Diana Gamage emphasized the need for flexibility in entertainment hours to accommodate varying cultural norms and preferences.

As discussions on tourism regulations continue, stakeholders are encouraged to consider the perspectives of tourists and the potential economic benefits of promoting a vibrant nightlife scene. The Minister’s remarks underscore the importance of striking a balance between regulation and the provision of entertainment options to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience for visitors to Sri Lanka.

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All vocational training institutes in Sri Lanka should be consolidated into a single vocational college – President

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe during an observation tour at the Ratmalana Lalith Athulathmudali Vocational Training Centre, this morning (22) , outlined plans to consolidate all vocational training institutes in Sri Lanka into a single vocational college, offering contemporary subject-related courses.

He said that the restructuring of vocational education was  essential to align with the demands of the modern world, ensuring that the youth of the country are equipped to excel in the competitive global job market.

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Opposition threatens to move no-faith motion against Speaker over OSB

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Speaker Abeywardena

By Saman Indrajith

Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premnadasa told Parliament yesterday that the Online Safety Bill had been passed in violation of the law and unless remedial action was taken, a no-faith motion would be brought against Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Premadasa said that Article 123(4) of the Constitution says, “Where any Bill, or the provision of any Bill, has been determined, or is deemed to have been determined, to be inconsistent with the Constitution, such Bill or such provision shall not be passed except in the manner stated in the determination of the Supreme Court.”

Premadasa said: “It is illegal to pass a Bill without adhering to this constitutional provision. There were nine instances where the government overlooked the Supreme Court determination on the Bill. The Speaker allowed that to happen despite our protests. The Justice Minister, too, has admitted that there are flaws in the Act. How could that happen? Rectify them immediately, or we will bring a no-confidence motion against the Speaker.”

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said that even if the Supreme Court determined that a section or clause of a draft Bill was inconsistent with the Constitution, a Bill could be passed by Parliament. It could be done with either a two-thirds majority or two-thirds majority plus people’s approval from a referendum. A case cannot be filed against the way the Speaker or an MP behaved in this House as they have immunity. Former Speaker Anura Bandaranaike, too, has given a ruling on this issue and we still consider it as a precedent to be upheld. With regard to the Online Safety Bill, the Attorney General has instructed Public Security Minister Tiran Alles to incorporate some amendments as per the Supreme Court determination and to bring other recommended amendments in the form of a separate Amendment Bill. I was not a party to that discussion. This Amendment Bill was presented to the Cabinet and approval was granted and now is at the Legal Draftsman’s Department. Thereafter, it would be referred to the Cabinet again and with that approval we can have it here in this House for consideration,” the Minister said.

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