By Shamindra Ferdinando
State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle said that the Covid-19 vaccine should be made mandatory for all Sri Lankans.
Dr. Fernandopulle said so when The Island asked her whether the country struggling to cope up with the raging Covid-19 epidemic should introduce laws to make Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for all. The State Minister’s view was sought in the wake of Sergeant-at-Arms of Parliament Narendra Fernando’s declaration that MPs as well as the parliamentary staff could opt not to take the vaccine.
The Sgt.-at-Arms said that about a dozen lawmakers of the 225-member Parliament hadn’t received the vaccine though arrangements were made for them to receive jab at the Military Hospital, Narahenpita or Parliament.
Sri Lanka uses AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Moderna, Sputnik and Pfizer in its vaccination programme with China produced Sinopharm being the major vaccine available here accounting for about 80 per cent of all anti-covid vaccinations.
Responding to another query, Dr. Fernandopulle said that the Covid Task Force chaired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would have to decide on making the vaccination compulsory. Dr. Fernandopulle stressed the importance of receiving whatever the available vaccine.
The Island learns that the issue had been brought to the notice of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday. Authoritative sources said that the government was convinced by mid-September a significant number of Sri Lankans would receive both vaccines thanks to tireless efforts made by health workers and the armed forces.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is of the view that instead of a ‘lockdown’, stringent measures were necessary to control people’s movements. Sources said that in spite of a spate of reports pertaining to impending ‘lockdown’ the top decision makers ruled that out.
Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) lawmakers Mujibur Rahman (Colombo District) and Rohini Kaviratne (Matale district) said that the vaccination emerged as the primary safeguard against the epidemic. Therefore, the people had no option but to receive vaccines depending on the availability, they said, urging the government to take the overall situation into consideration without depending entirely on the vaccination programme.
MP Rahman said that he received the vaccine at an SLAF base recently in Colombo, whereas MP Kaviratne said she received hers at the Parliament. Lawmaker Rahman said that he had been compelled to delay taking the vaccine on medical advice. The former UNP MP tested Covid positive on May 19th.
Lawmaker Kaviratne emphasized that the government was answerable to the people. Referring to recent declaration by Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella that once the government vaccinated the people the rest would be up to the gods, MP Kaviratne said that the SLPP received two mandates in 2019 and 2020 at the presidential and parliamentary polls, respectively. Therefore, it would be the SLPP government’s responsibility, she said, urging government spokespersons not to involve the powers above in the matter.
The MP recalled how at the onset of the Covid triggered crisis the government promoted so-called miracle covid tonic known as Dammika Paniya and engaged in all sorts of superstitious nonsense at the public expense.
Responding to another query, MP Kaviratne said that she received Sinopharm along with some members of the Parliamentary staff. “I never bothered about any particular vaccine though I delayed taking it until the vaccination got underway in Matale district,” MP Kaviratne said.
Meanwhile, Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardena has called for an urgent meeting on Monday (16) under Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena’s leadership to discuss the current situation. Sources speculated that with the increased threat posed by Covid-19 the party leaders were likely to cancel scheduled sittings beginning August 17 (Tuesday) to Friday.
So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.
He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.
“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.
Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.
Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter
The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.
The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.
• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893
• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals
• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252
• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance
• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987
The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.
CHR condemns intimidation of striking teachers
The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) yesterday condemned the continuous threats against striking teachers and principals by government politicians. During the various phases of the strike, the government had tried to mobilise mobs, often pretending to be parents, to intimidate the strikers.
CHR Executive Director Surangi Ariyawansha said that those threats violate the provisions of the Constitution. Commenting on media revelations that mobs,backed by Ministers, have been calling principals and teachers, to force them to come to school on October 21, she said that such actions had set a dangerous precedent.
“Principals and teachers boycotted online teaching for close to 100 days demanding the resolution of a long standing salary issue. The government initially attempted to quell union action by using quarantine regulations. Later these tactics have devolved into direct intimidation,” she said. (RK)
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