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Cremation of Covid-19 victims will continue – Sudarshini



Still no change in existing burial procedure

by Suresh Perera

There is still no change in the official decision to allow the burial of patients who succumb to Covid-19, State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle said yesterday.

“The status quo remains. Cremations will continue as per regulations in place”, she told The Sunday Island.

She said that until and unless there is a new gazette notification issued to legally permit the burial of coronavirus victims, health authorities will continue with the existing cremation procedure in terms of the law.

There was speculation that the process would be reversed after Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa told Parliament that the government has decided to permit the burial of Covid victims.

However, the recommendations of a scientific committee appointed to examine the issue are being awaited to make a final determination on whether it was safe to sanction burials, health officials said.

With claims and counter claims that permitting the burial of Covid-19 victims could contaminate ground water and pose a health risk to the population, there needs to be an indepth analysis by experts to clear grey areas before arriving at a formal decision, they explained.

The Muslim community in particular has been demanding that burials be permitted in keeping with their religious rites.

Water used by Covid patients in treatment centres also seep into water ground tables. Medical opinion seems to be divided on the controversial subject with some experts indicating the possibility of the virus persisting and remaining infectious in or on the body of someone who has died.

A professor of microbiology whose specialty is virology said the dead body of a Covid infected person does not pose a risk to ground water as the potency to spread the virus is negated after death.

There are antibodies in a dead (infected) patient’s system, which could continue to pose the risk of transmission, a medical specialist opined.

Asked whether the pandemic has virtually gone out of control particularly with the emergence of the highly contagious new variant, Minister Fernandopulle assured that the situation is being managed effectively under a concerted campaign.

Sri Lanka saw the highest number of 13 Covid-19 related deaths on Wednesday since the outbreak of the contagion around March 2020.

The number of positive cases have declined over the past two days, the Minister said, while adding that it was still too early to predict how the wave will play out.

Of the numbers, all those listed don’t die of corona per se as there are a few among them who succumb to non communicable diseases such as heart attacks, diabetes, kidney failure, suffer strokes or have other underlying medical conditions, she noted.

Medical officials warned that patients with co-mobidity face a bigger risk if they contract the virus as it could prove fatal under the circumstances.

As of Friday (19), the Covid-19 death toll stood at 430 with 78,926 infections and 72,566 recoveries.

The presence of the British variant of the virus is also believed to have contributed to the surge in infections as the new strain has been declared highly contagious.




President requests the opposition to support the implementation of the IMF agreement




President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the Opposition to unite and disregard political differences to assist in carrying out the IMF agreement, which would aid in the development of Sri Lanka’s economy.

The President emphasized that his duty is not to condemn previous administrations but to concentrate on the development of the country. He also declared his dedication to constructing a better future by creating laws and frameworks that prevent the recurrence of past errors.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered this message in a special address to Parliament this morning (22) regarding the receipt of the Extended Credit Facility from the International Monetary Fund.

He stated that despite allegations being leveled against him that his objective was not to rescue the country from an economic crisis but to safeguard the Rajapaksa family, the international community had acknowledged his efforts to carry the country across the economic vine bridge.

The President further said that he had faith in rebuilding the beloved country where he was born, brought up and educated, and said that many past experiences were the reasons for confirming that faith.

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SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court



The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

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Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April



Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

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