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Govt. hospitals should introduce drive-through testing – medical don

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Drive-through PCR testing was one of the safest ways of testing whether a person had contracted the disease and should be conducted by government hospitals, academic and physician, Prof. Arjuna de. Silva told The Island yesterday.

Prof.de Silva is the Head of the Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Anti-Doping Agency (SLADA).

He said medical associations played a vital role in making the government implement a lockdown, and the government had to increase PCR testing during the lockdown.

“I know that the lockdown is affecting the economy. That is why we must get the best out of this sacrifice, and we need to find out what the hotspots are. For this, we must keep testing. When the positive rate is above 5% of total tests, usually we think that this is an indication that not enough tests are being conducted.”

Prof. de Silva said that in recent days, testing had dropped and one of the reasons for it was the banning of private hospitals from conducting drive-through testing. He conceded that the government had a valid reason for the ban. However, it should start such tests at the state-run hospitals or other state institutions, he said.

“Drive-through testing was a very safe method because testing takes place in an open area and people are tested in their own vehicles. In other countries people are even vaccinated in this manner. We must think outside the box.”

Prof.de Silva added that around 70% of COVID-19 patients were asymptomatic but they could still spread the disease. That made testing doubly important because as the health officials and medical professionals did not have a real understanding of what the ground realities were.

On Wednesday Prof. De Silva also urged the government not to open up the country at once and to study the developments during the present country wide travel restrictions to identify potential hotspots.

“Open the safe areas first and then open up the rest of the country. We need to increase testing to identify what is really going on. If we open up everything once, any gain we have made in the past two weeks will be lost.”



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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