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

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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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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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