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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.




Southern MP warns that Russian & Ukranian tourists working here are at risk



“They may be knifed or their lives threatened”

ECONOMYNEXT – Tourists from Russia and Ukraine who are staying in houses in Sri Lanka for long periods are engaging in business activities and should be taxed to prevent them being knifed by competitors, SLPP MP Chandima Weerakkody told parliament on Friday.

“There are many tourists who are staying long term in houses,” he said. “Though they come here they cannot use their credit cards – especially Russian and Ukrainian tourists who cannot use their money through their cards. As a result they have been forced to work and earn something in Sri Lanka.”

He called on the government to have a system where they can use their money.

“In our areas many tourists are cutting hair, some are doing tinkering work, some are setting up pizza shops, some are selling cannabis – I think there is a new name now *for ganja),” Weerakkody said. “If we send the immigration behind the tourists who are coming, even those that are coming will not come.”

“No taxes are being charged from any of these tourists who are doing business. Our (local people’s) taxes are raised. I am asking at least to have a system for the government to collect some taxes

“I want to say in Parliament that in our areas, a knifing (pihi anumak), or some other threat to life (jeewitha tharjanayak) may happen if this situation continues.”

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Kidney sale racket unearthed in Colombo



Five duped to sell their kidneys at Rs. 15 million each

By Norman Palihawadane

The Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) has informed the Colombo Additional Magistrate Ranjindra Jayasuriya that an investigation has been launched to arrest the suspects involved in the organized racket of obtaining kidneys from poor people promising big money and selling them to local and foreign people.The CCD told the court on Thursday that four men and one woman have parted with their kidneys, and despite promising to pay Rs.15 million per kidney nothing was paid.

CCD reported to court that the victims were operated at a Hospital on Cotta Road in Borella and no money was paid. A mother who was nursing a one-and-a-half-year-old infant was among those cheated.

The police told court that a person from the Bloemendhal area had referred these people through another man and a woman. Required medical tests had been conducted at three private hospitals.

Evidence has been obtained that kidney surgeries had been performed at a private hospital in Borella and the CCD stated in court that this racket was organized targeting poor families in Colombo.

It informed court that they have already launched investigations and will arrest the suspects and produce them before court.After considering the relevant submissions, the Magistrate ordered the CCD to conduct investigations and arrest the suspects and present them to court.

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Record highest number of school students visit Parliament



School children wave during their visit to Parliament on Thursday (1). Serjeant-at Arms Narendra Fernando said that the largest number of school students in the history of the Parliament visited the Parliament on Dec 1. Over 5,000 students from 32 schools from different provinces visited the Parliament on that day, he said. More than 25,000 students representing schools in different parts of the country had visited to observe the Parliamentary debates after the Public Gallery was reopened for school students from Sept 19.

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