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GMOA raises alarm over COVID-19 deaths increasing rapidly

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

As three COVID-19 persons died yesterday (27) while undergoing treatment at the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) and the National hospital, Colombo the Government Medical Officers’ Association warned that the number of deaths would increase rapidly if the government didn’t take immediate action.

The 17th COVID-19 related death was that of a 41-year-old resident of Ja-Ela, who was also undergoing treatment for cirrhosis. He died at the IDH.

The other two, an 87-year-old woman from Slave Island and a 19-year-old person from Keselwatte passed away while undergoing treatment at the National Hospital. The woman had been admitted to the hospital for a leg injury. PCR tests conducted following their deaths proved that they were COVID0-19 positive.

GMOA’s Dr. Haritha Aluthge told The Island that they had warned of an increase in the number of COVID-19 related deaths for some time. The inputs of health sector experts had not given the attention they deserved, he said.

“On Monday, we warned that it was a complex situation and we are in front of a serious crisis. We are detecting COVID-19 positive cases by the hundreds now each day and people do not believe that we have not reached the community spread level. With these deaths people will panic more.”

Hospitals were being overwhelmed and the deaths would rise exponentially if the current trend continued, he said. “If we don’t make a course correction, we can expect a large number of deaths in the next two months. We have identified five districts at risk; they are Gampaha, Colombo, Kalutara, Kegalle and Kurunegala; some other districts are also at risk. We have proposed that the borders of these five districts be secured. We have also told this to the Presidential Task Force.”

On Monday, Head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), Dr. Ananda Wijewickrama warned that if the situation was not brought under control urgently, the people who were prone to complications with pre-existing conditions would be in danger.

“This is what we saw on Tuesday. Those who died either had a pre-existing condition or were old. We have a lot of people with non-communicable diseases in this country. That is why health professionals have been urging those in power to take steps to curb NCDs.”

 

 



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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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