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Health system’s capacity for crisis weakening at alarming rate: JVP



By Saman Indrajith

The country’s health system is on the verge of collapse as the hospitals are bulging at the seams with rapid increasing of COVID-19 patients, immediate future would be very bleak as the health system’s capacity of treating patients is weakened daily, said the JVP on August 19.

The immediate future would be very bleak as the health system’s capacity of treating patients is weakened daily, they said.

Addressing a press conference held at the party headquarters in Pelawatte, JVP politburo member and former Kalutara District MP Dr Nalinda Jayatissa said that time has come to exert pressure on the government to take actions to prevent further deaths.

“We are at the threshold of the worst stage of the pandemic. As at noon today (19), the number of infected in the hospitals have exceeded 45,000 mark. This same situation was experienced in the US, India, Indonesia and Italy at the first wave of the pandemic. Their health systems collapsed as the number of patients exceeded the capacity of those systems. Not only the physical infrastructure including ICUs, oxygen and ventilators but also human resources – the hospital staff members including doctors, are not sufficient to meet the requirement. On the other hand, doctors and nurses are now infected. For example 28 staff members including eight doctors of the Homagama hospital have been infected. Of those eight doctors, four were attached to the ICU. As at Wednesday, 265 staff members including 27 doctors and 105 nurses of the National Hospital in Colombo were among the infected. Since the nursing staff members were infected, the hospital cannot maintain their duty shifts. As per countrywide reports, there were more than 200 doctors and 4,000 nurses infected. Around 40 PHIs and hundreds of para-medics and health supportive service staff members are infected by the virus.

“As of now several health assistant workers and doctors have lost their lives. The situation indicates that the immediate future would be very bleak as the health system’s capacity of treating patients is weakened daily. There are variants of the virus and mutated variants too among us. The government should take immediate action to close this country down. Instead of doing the right thing the government is doing what it wants to do. Even ten parties within the government have asked the President to go for a lockdown. The rulers have their children abroad and may think that nothing happening here would have an impact on them so they keep the country open. We are losing lives that could have been saved. We call on people to go for self-lockdowns without waiting for the government to declare lockdowns,” Dr Jayatissa said.

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GL follows up Udaya’s initiative, negotiates concessionary crude oil supplies with UAE



Balance-of-payment crisis continues to stagger govt.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The United Arab Emirates (UAD) has agreed to discuss a possible arrangement to provide Sri Lanka crude oil on concessionary terms in the face of the country experiencing a severe balance-of-payments crisis, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris took up the matter with UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, on the sidelines of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Prof. Peiris is on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s delegation to the UNGA.

In late August, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila sought the intervention of the Acting Head of the UAE Embassy in Sri Lanka, Saif Alanofy. Minister Gammanpila also met the Iranian Ambassador in Colombo in a bid to explore the possibility of obtaining oil from Iran on concessionary arrangements.

The Foreign Ministry statement on Prof. Peiris meeting with the UAE Minister dealt with the financial crisis experienced by the country. “Foreign Minister Peiris explained the challenges Sri Lanka is experiencing in respect of its external budget, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prof. Peiris focused in particular on the country’s requirement for oil and requested concessionary arrangements from the UAE.”

The Foreign Ministry quoted Minister Al Jaber as having said that the UAE would be happy to assist and proposed the establishment of a strategic framework to take the process forward.”

The ministry stressed that both sides agreed to follow-up rapidly.

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila earlier told The Island that concessionary arrangements were required to procure oil as part of an overall strategy to overcome the developing crisis.

Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and Attorney-at-law Gammanpila said that increase in fuel prices in the second week of June this year was only a part of the government’s response to heavy pressure on foreign reserves. Minister Gammanpila said that the decision was taken close on the heels of dire warning from the Central Bank.

Minister Gammanpila said that in spite of foreign currency crisis, the government ensured an uninterrupted supply of fuel. According to him, Sri Lanka spent as much as USD 3.5 to 5 bn annually on oil imports depending on the world market prices.

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President attends 9/11 commemoration in NY



President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday attended the special commemorative event near the Manhattan Memorial in the United States to mark the 20th anniversary of terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.

The terrorist attacks took place on September 11, 2001, targeting the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of Defence.

Coinciding with the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the 9/11 Memorial Museum jointly organised the event. Other Heads of State and government representatives, who were in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, were also present at the event to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in those attacks.

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FSP calls on govt. allies not to pretend to oppose adverse deal with US firm



By Anuradha Hiripitiyage

Due to the secret agreement signed with US firm New Fortress Energy, Sri Lanka would soon face a situation akin to the one already faced by Ukraine, the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) predicted yesterday.

“Sri Lanka is trying to reduce its dependency on coal and switch over to LNG. With this in mind, several coal and diesel power plants are to be converted into LNG in the coming decade. Now, we will entirely depend on the US to provide us with LNG to power these plants. Given that the US intends to control the seas in which Sri Lanka is placed strategically, they will not let us off the hook once they establish their foothold here. We are in deep trouble,” FSP Propaganda Secretary, Duminda Nagamuwa said.

Nagamuwa said that some constituents of the government were pretending that they opposed the transfer of government’s shares in the Yugadanavi Power Plant to New Fortress Energy. “But this is not the time for theatrics but for concrete action”, he said.

Nagamuwa said that the agreement between the government and US Company New Fortress Energy to construct a new offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) receiving, storage and regasification terminal at Kerawalapitiya as well as the transfer of government’s shares in the Yugadanavi Power Plant had to be scrapped.

“Even government ministers agree that the agreement was not discussed with them. Several affiliates of the government are trying to convince the people that they are fighting this decision from inside. However, past experience has shown that when push comes to shove they will stay with the government. They must show the leaders of the government that they are not puppets,” he said.

Nagamuwa said that if those affiliated to the government were serious in their opposition to undermining Sri Lanka’s energy security they should show their commitment by doing something concrete.

The Yugadanavi Power Station at Kerawalapitiya already produced 300 MWs of energy and there was a plan to build another 350 MW plant there. The US Company had now been allowed to build an offshore LNG receiving, storage, and regasification terminal and to provide LNG to the existing Power Station and the new 350 MW power plant to be built, he said.

“Now we are under the power of the US. We will soon be facing the plight of Ukraine,” he said.

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