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Health Ministry yet to respond to HRCSL’s concerns

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Covid-19 response:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) says the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr. Asela Gunawardena has yet to respond to issues raised by the outfit with regard to mismanagement and shortcomings in the ongoing Covid-19 inoculation drive.

A HRCSL spokesperson yesterday (2) told The Island that HRCSL Chairperson Dr. Jagath Balasuriya, in a letter dated May 28 sought a clarification from DGHS by or before June 15 However, the anticipated response was yet to be received.

According to a copy of the HRCSL letter, in Sinhalese, received by The Island, The HRCSL raised the prioritisation of COVID-19 vaccinations amidst accusations regarding serious malpractices and mismanagement received from the health sector and various other services as well.

Former parliamentarian Dr. Balasuriya has requested DGHS to formulate an effective vaccination map and bring it to the notice of the HRCSL by or before June 15. The DGHS hasn’t responded so far though the time lapsed over two weeks ago, the spokesperson said.

Dr. Gunawardena didn’t answer his phone yesterday.

Former lawmaker M.M. Zuhair, PC, said that in spite of the media repeatedly highlighting the deficiencies in the inoculation drive those in authority appeared to have turned a blind eye to the pathetic situation. Zuhair said that the recent television coverage of those over 70 years of age in a queue to receive AstraZeneca aka Covishield vaccine showed they were badly exposed both to elements and the virus. It also exposed the incompetence of the health administration. Having launched the inoculation drive on January 29, authorities had ample time to streamline the process over the next few months, the civil society activist said. Unfortunately, the way those senior citizens had suffered throughout this week for want of a streamlined process was appalling, the one-time Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Teheran said.

The HRCSL expressed concern over the inordinate delay in the DGHS responding to their letter which at the onset appreciated the role played by the health sector in meeting the Covid-19 threat. However, the HRCSL’s concerns raised in terms of Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Act (No. 21 of 1996) couldn’t be ignored under any circumstances though they understood the difficulties experienced by the health administration.

 



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At least 17 killed after explosion in Peshawar mosque

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(picture from twitter)

BBC reported that at least 17 people have been killed in an explosion at a mosque in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

The blast happened when the mosque was packed with worshippers and more than 90 people were injured.

A section of the building was destroyed, and officials say people are buried under the rubble. Several others are being taken to local hospitals.

The cause of the explosion is unclear.

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More heavy rain ahead for New Zealand’s largest city

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Auckland experienced an unprecedented amount of rainfall on Friday (picture BBC)

BBC reported that residents in flood-hit northern New Zealand are bracing for more heavy rains as officials issued severe weather alerts.

At least four people have died and a state of emergency was declared in Auckland, which on Friday experienced its worst downpour on record.

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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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