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Medical lab technologists raise fears over further relaxing of preventive measure to please businesses

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Sri Lanka should not change quarantine laws at the whims and fancies of big businesses, President of the College of Medical Laboratory Science, Ravi Kumudesh told The Island yesterday, commenting on attempts made to relax such laws to facilitate tourist arrivals.

“Former ambassador to Russia and an architect of the plan to bring in Ukrainian tourists, Udayanga Weeratunga, tells the media that Sri Lankan quarantine laws are not practical and that it’s unrealistic to expect tourists to be quarantined for 14 days. He also tells us that there is no need to subject tourists to 5 – 6 PCR tests. These sentiments are echoed by Ministers and MPs in Parliament.”

Kumudesh said that countries like Malaysia and Thailand, which had larger tourism industries, had not changed their quarantine laws to attract tourists. Compared to Sri Lanka, the contribution of tourism to the GDP of those countries was much larger, he said.

Kumudesh said that Ukraine already had five new types of coronavirus and was struggling to contain infection in their own country. He also criticized the government for misleading people by saying that tourists remained in a Bio-secure bubble.

He said: “Bio-secure bubble is an environment where tourists are cut off from the outside world, to minimise and prevent the risk of being exposed to the coronavirus. But is it what’s happening now? No one puts COVID-19 cases, associates or those untested for the coronavirus inside such a bubble. We are also responsible to ensure the safety of tourists as well. We are heading for big trouble and if tourists contract COVID-19 here, that will spell trouble for us in the long term. If you want to change the quarantine laws, do it based on science and not because of what business people want.”



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SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court

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The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

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Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April

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Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

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IGP tells CID not to brook any interference from any quarter while they probe ’Harak Kata’ and ‘Kudu Salindu’

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By Norman Palihawadane

IGP CD Wickramaratne has directed the CID to maintain a special log of names and details of any attempts by external parties to influene the ongoing investigations on notorious drug traffickers Nandun Chinthaka Wickramaratne aka Harak Kata and Salindu Malshika aka Kudu Salindu.

The suspects are currently under the custody of the CID.

The IGP issued the orders to the DIG CID and its director during a meeting of senior police officers on Monday, police headquarters said.

Sources said that the IGP has further instructed not to allow statements from the detainees to be taken by any police team other than the team currently investigating the suspects.

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