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Karu calls for unity in fighting grave problems now confronting the country



The serious challenge facing our country due to the Covid-19 pandemic should not be underestimated by anybody. The government must recognize its responsibility and give maximum attention to the health of the people focusing on their well being as well as possible economic challenges in the face of the epidemic, Mr. Karu Jayasuriya, Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice said in a statement issued last week.

He said health officials and epidemiologists in the country have warned that the pandemic is spreading rapidly. Given the current plight of our neighboring ally India in particular, taking all possible measures to prevent such an eventuality here must be the top priority of the relevant authorities.

“We have arrived at a juncture when the vaccination process needs to be effectively activated to ensure the safety for our 21 million citizens. According to health authorities, we as a country currently have a mere 300,000 doses of vaccine. At a time when nearly 900,000 people who were given the first dose need to be given the second, it is very clear that the number of doses we have at present is not adequate.

“The government needs to address this urgently and take necessary action. At the same time, all measures need to be taken to provide adequate facilities to the hospital system to cope with any situation that may arise. We hope this will happen.

“At the same time, it is the responsibility of all parties to work together as a nation to overcome these challenges without any racial, religious and political divisions. That is the absolute duty of the whole country. The ruling party and the state leadership should be the first to set the example.

“The first step towards this is to stop all forms of political revenge and extend the hand of friendship to all. However, despite the need to create such an environment, certain events taking place in the country cause a deep sense of sadness. One example is the recent summoning by the police and questioning for nearly five hours of the sister of MP Harin Fernando who is being treated in hospital following surgery.

“This can never be considered a moral act. It is a violation of human rights. A similar situation exists with regard to Rishad Bathiudeen. He has been arrested and released on several previous occasions. In the context of the report of the Presidential Commission into the Easter attacks, where no specific charges have been made against him, it is the responsibility of the relevant authorities to provide an opportunity for a fair trial by prosecuting him immediately if there are reasonable grounds to charge him at this moment in time.

“The unconventional nature of the arrest is not satisfactory. It should be clarified why such an action was taken at 2 a.m. without informing the Speaker. It is clearly an insult to Parliament and the Speaker. Such foolish acts undermine the good done by the security forces and the judiciary in combating terrorism and arouses suspicion.

“We responsibly urge all parties in this country not to combine narrow political motives with the investigation and legal actions related to serious crimes committed in this country including the Easter attack.

“We also call for immediate action to be taken for the benefit of our people and country by paying proper attention to the health and safety of the people and their livelihoods. When we are united as one we can face any challenge. His Excellency the President should take the lead in this. That is how ruined countries are rebuilt.”

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Govt. urged to increase nursing cadre to tackle national health crisis



By Shamindra Ferdinando

National Coordinator, Training (Nursing) Pushpa Ramyani de Soysa says that against the backdrop of alarming increase in the number of positive Covid-19 cases, the government needs to act swiftly and decisively to strengthen the nursing staff or face the consequences.

The top nurse insists a moment cannot be wasted as the ongoing epidemic threatens to overwhelm the entire country. The nurses’ spokesperson attached to the Accident Ward of the National Hospital, Colombo, delivered the dire warning in a live interview with Dasun Wasantha on the state-run ITN yesterday (14)

The outspoken official said that at the time Covid-19 erupted in 2020, the nursing staff consisted of approximately 38,000 representing all grades. At that time, the country experienced a staggering 50 per cent dearth of trained nursing staff, de Soysa said, urging those responsible as well as the public of the urgent need to strengthen the nursing staff.

She explained how the nursing staff worked under unbearable pressure as the entire medical staff backed by the military and the police struggled to cope up with the relentless Covid-19 onslaught.

Responding to the interviewer on live ‘Hathweni Paya’ , de Soysa said that as an immediate interim measure, those who had retired in the past few years could be brought back to lessen the pressure on the staff. When The Island sought further clarification from the National

Coordinator, the nursing veteran emphasized the Covid-19 challenge had to be tackled, in addition to the regular workload. A further deterioration of the situation could cause a catastrophe, she told The Island.

The National Coordinator told the ITN as nurses couldn’t be trained overnight the way required beds and other equipment could be supplied to hospitals, hence the urgent need to bring back the retired without further delay. She repeatedly stressed the responsibility on the part of the administration whoever in power to increase the nursing staff to meet the country’s growing requirement. Acknowledging the services rendered by the health services at an extremely difficult period, nurse de Soysa underscored the critical role played by the nursing staff in the overall effort against the epidemic.

Soysa highlighted what she called a coordinating role played by the nursing staff in the treatment of persons afflicted by Covid-19 or some other illness. In the absence of sufficient number of nurses, personnel had been re-allocated, de Soysa said, pointing out that due to Covid-19 explosion patients were being accommodated at hospitals.

Commenting on challenges faced by the nursing profession, de Soysa recalled the sacrifices made during the 30-year-war that was brought to a successful conclusion in May 2009. “Regardless of d immense difficulties, the nursing staff fulfilled their responsibilities during the conflict. We’ll do the same now,” de Soysa said, pointing out as many as 270 nurses had been tested Covid-19 positive, in addition to thousands quarantined.

The National Coordinator complained about the dearth of some critically important data relevant to the Covid-19 situation needed for evaluation purposes. Timely decisions couldn’t be taken for want of updated data at global and local level, she said.

She also discussed difficulties caused by some of those seeking treatment at hospitals not being aware of their condition, hence the need to be vigilant. However, sometimes, nursing staff served without taking into consideration the grave risks them faced. A grave looking de Soysa told the ITN interviewer they couldn’t follow health guidelines. “We cannot keep one meter distance in hospitals,” de Soysa said.

Nurse de Soysa said that she received both doses of covishields vaccine as key part of overall measures in place for the protection of the medical staff.

Without referring to any political party, de Soysa explained how the political administration over the years treated the nursing staff as slaves. Government treated nursing staff as dirt, de Soysa said, recalling with gratitude how Ven Muruththettuwe Ananda thera spearheaded a campaign that paved the way for significant improvement in the nursing service. The National Coordinator said that before the Ven. Thera’s intervention, they were assigned intolerable tasks regardless of their complains.

Responding to another ITN query, de Soysa said that successive governments hadn’t responded to their call for enhancement of the nursing service with the introduction of a system to produce qualified nurses who specializes in selected fields. Although action had been taken , the entire process was proceeding at snail pace, she alleged.

The National Instructor made reference to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s 2019 presidential election manifesto that also dealt with the issue at hand. The top nurse didn’t mince her words when she pointed out that the required improvements weren’t introduced as expected, hence the need to move now.

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Coronavirus spreading fast in North



By Dinasena Ratugamage

COVID-19 is spreading across a number of areas in the Northern province at a rapid pace, according to THE provincial health officials.

Five members of the same family in Kattakadu, Kilinochchi have contracted COVID-19 and been sent to Krishnapuram Treatment centre.

One family member is a university student, who stayed in Colombo. He returned home recently and several family members started developing Covid-19 symptoms a few days later. Health officials conducted PCR tests and found that all five family members had contracted the virus. Six other neighbouring families have been placed under quarantine.

Meanwhile, 43-year-old man was arrested by Kilinochchi Police for hoarding alcohol to be sold, at a higher price, during the current lockdown. The suspect is a resident of Kalmadukulam, Dharmapuram. He is to be produced before the Kilinochchi Magistrate’s Court.

However, most towns in the North had been deserted yesterday due to the lockdown.

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Navy nets 30 illegal migrants



More than 30 persons were apprehended by the Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard in Samindugama on Thursday and Friday while they were preparing to migrate to a foreign country by boat illegally.

The owner of the house where the suspects had stayed was also arrested, together with15 others involved in human smuggling.

The suspects, residents of Jaffna, Batticaloa, Mullaitivu and Puttalam areas, were handed over to the Chilaw Police.

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