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Mayor says Colombo City facing a big humanitarian crisis due to Covid knock-on effects



Colombo Mayor Mrs. Rosy Senanayake said that her main focus is that the lockdown in some parts of the city can be used to quickly get on top of situation by doing a lot more testing, including much more random testing, identify and isolate pockets and bring normalcy back as soon as possible, so that city life and business can resume as normal as soon as possible.

“We are facing a massive humanitarian crisis in the city due to the knock-on effects of the Covid19 pandemic. I appeal to those who are better off to help some of our fellow residents undergoing untold hardships due to economic impact of COVID-19”, she said in a statement.

There are approximately 100,000 families within the city in need of assistance due to them being in lockdown areas and losing their ability to earn daily wage/revenue. The CMC has made preparations to provide dry ration packs to 70,000 families immediately, she said.

“During the first lockdown the CMC distributed dry rations packs to 50,000 families in the city. This time also we are trying to do so but our finances are also stretched to the limit. We are seeking the generous support of corporates and individuals to make up the balance for 30,000 dry ration packs”, the Mayor noted.

“We are seeking the assistance of corporates and individuals who can contribute directly to those in need or join hands with the CMC and contribute in kind or cash to the Mayors Fund which is used to purchase and distribute dry rations to those in need, she further said.

The resources of the government and the CMC are overstretched in doing testing, identification, contact tracing and quarantining. A city-wide lockdown will enable the authorities to do a systematic, far reaching operation to test and isolate Covid-19 positive persons and their direct contacts so as to stop the spread in the highly congested city and from the city outward as well, Mayor Senanayake further said.

There is a massive constant operation to undertake the testing, isolation, contact tracing in the city, and this is primarily handled by the CMC public health department. This is stretching the public health department to the limit, as they work with very little rest and recuperation to fulfil their national duty, she added.

“We are in need to expand our human resources urgently and therefore Called up all retired PHI’s to report back to provide temporary cover. We are in discussion with the Medical Faculty to bring in medical students as interns to undertake certain tasks in the public health department. We are also establishing a dedicated ambulance service to ferry seriously ill patients in lockdown areas to hospital and to deliver their medications”, the Mayor continued.

“In order to boost immunity and general body health, the CMC Ayurveda Dept manufactures and distributes a special immunity boosting herbal preparation. Residents can obtain same from their local CMC Ayurveda clinic free of charge. We have an established a 24-hour medical advice service hotlines with direct access to the CMC Medical Officers”, she said.

“As Mayor of Colombo, I request every resident of Colombo and everyone who comes into Colombo to exercise all safety measures in place and assist the government to overcome this challenge. The most effective way is assuming that every other person you meet is potentially a Covid-19 positive person and act with the necessary level of safety with safe distancing, face mask wearing, regularly washing hands’, she said.

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PSC action could cripple health services, warns GMOA Secretary



There were vacancies for 89 specialist doctors in government teaching hospitals due to certain actions taken by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said yesterday.

GMOA secretary Dr. Senal Fernando yesterday told The Island those vacancies had the potential to cripple the state health service, as the service was stressed due to COVID-19.

Dr. Fernando said: “Specialist doctors are appointed and transfered according to procedures established by the Health Service Minute. The Ministry of Health is responsible for the transfers and the PSC should oversee the transfering process to ensure that they are made in a proper manner.”

“The PSC has ordered the appointment of a committee to look into the matter but there is no mention of such a committee in the Health Service Minute. Instead of following the process, the PSC has tried to intervene in the process and 89 posts remain vacant during the time of COVID-19,” he said.

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Hizbullah denies links with Zahran



But signed agreement for Zahran’s help in 2015 GE

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former Governor of the Eastern Province, M. L. A. M. Hizbullah on Monday night told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing Easter Sunday attacks, that he had not had any links to National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim. The NTJ members had assaulted his supporters at Kattankudy in March 2017, he said.

Hizbullah said so when the Commissioners asked him about his links with Zahran.

Hizbullah was also asked about billions of rupees he had received from foreign organisations since 2016. Earlier in the day, it was revealed that close to Rs. 4 billion had been deposited by foreign individuals and institutions in two accounts Hizbullah operated at the Bank of Ceylon Colpetty Branch from 2016 to 2019.

The witness said the Sri Lanka Hira Foundation, a social service institution run by him, had received money from foreign countries after March 2016.

“Ali Abdullah al-Juffali of Saudi Arabia gave Rs. 308 million and Siddique and Diana Osmond of London gave Rs. 5.5 million,” he said.

Hizbullah added that he knew al-Juffali and some other Saudi philanthropists. Al Juffali family was one of the richest Saudis with an estimated worth USD 19.8 billion, he said.

Then, a video of a discussion Zahran had with Sibli Farooq of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was played at the PCoI.

The video showed Zahran and Farooq talking about a sum of one million riyals that Hizbullah had allegedly received from Saudi Arabia. In the video, Zahran says that he had no problem with Hizbullah receiving money from Saudi Arabia.

In response, Hizbullah said that by the 2015 Presidential election, Farooq and Zahran had been against him. A member of the Commission then asked why Hizbullah had entered into an agreement with Zahran during an election if he had acted against him.

Hizbullah said Zahran had told, on social media, that he would support politicians who agreed to some of his proposals.” All the parties joined him. I also went along,” he said. Earlier, it was revealed that representatives for the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG) had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for the support of NTJ in 2015.

Hizbullah was also questioned on the Aliyar clash between NTJ and Sunnath Wal Jamaat, a group that supported Hizbullah, on 10 March, 2017.

“Did you ask Zahran to surrender to the court through his mother?” a member of the Commission questioned.

“I made no such comment. I do not know if anyone in my party did so,” he said.

The Commissioners also asked Hizbullah about growing date palms in the Kattankudy area and placing Arabic billboards.

The witness replied that he had grown date palms because of the high temperatures in the area. Nameplates with Arabic letters had been put up to attract Arabic students as they were largely visiting the area, he said.

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CA annuls summons issued on President



The Court of Appeal yesterday annulled the summons issued on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the disappearance of two persons in Jaffna in 2011.

Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganathan went missing in 2011. Last year, Jaffna Magistrate’s Court issued summons on Rajapaksa over a habeas corpus petition filed by the relatives of the two missing activists. They had named Rajapaksa one of the respondents since he was the Defence Secretary at the time of the disappearances.

Earlier, Rajapaksa had submitted a writ application stating that he found it difficult to appear before the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court due to security reasons. The Court of Appeal issued an injunction preventing Rajapaksa being summoned by the Magistrate.

President of the Court of Appeal A. H. M. D. Nawaz, declaring their decision, said that a Magistrate’s Court could only issue summons over a specific reason. However the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court had issued the summons based on a motion of a lawyer and that there was no legal basis for the summons. Thus, the Court of Appeal issued a writ notification declaring the summons issued by the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court void.



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