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GMOA asks for guidelines on handling bodies of those who die of COVID-19 at home

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Not all deaths at home due to coronavirus

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Ministry of Health should prepare guidelines for health staff on handling the bodies of those who die of COVID-19 at their homes to prevent the spread of the disease, Editor of the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA,) Dr. Haritha Aluthge said yesterday.

“We proposed that we do a review of COVID-19 deaths and the Director General of Health Services, Dr. Asela Gunawardena agreed. He has appointed a committee to look into it and they have been given a week to study the COVID-19 deaths so far. They have also been asked to analyse daily COVID-19 deaths and present the report to the DGHS within 48 hours.”

Dr. Aluthge said they had asked the committee to submit its report on COVID-19 deaths so far to the DGHS within this week so that future action could be determined as soon as possible. Aluthge added that from what they had seen, some of the deaths that occurred at home could have been prevented.

“We must remember that a lot of people die at home due to various diseases including COVID-19. Even before the pandemic came about, a lot of old people, those with chronic diseases and those who had returned home from medical procedures died at their homes. The difference now is that we have to determine if these deaths are COVID-19 related. If we have done a large number of random tests as we proposed, we could have identified at least some of those who had died of COVID-19.”

Dr. Aluthge said: “There are several practical issues that need to be addressed. There must be health guidelines on how to conduct PCR tests on those who had died at home; whether the tests must be carried out at home or the bodies have to be brought to hospital; how the bodies should be transported and where the bodies should be placed until PCR test results are made known.”

Dr. Aluthge said that while a body was being transported, there was the risk of others contracting the virus. The Health Ministry should talk to PHIs and MoHs who knew the practical issues and obtain their opinion before preparing the guidelines, Dr. Aluthge said.



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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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