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NOCPCO takes stock of situation in wake of resurgence of highly contagious virus

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State Minister of Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research and Innovation, Dr. Seetha Arambepola at the NOPCO meeting

The National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID- 19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) evaluating the current situation in the wake of resurgence of the highly contagious virus in the country has agreed that the strategies to prevent further spread of the virus needed constant reviewing and close cooperation between health and security officials, army said yesterday.

At a special discussion held Sunday at the NOCPCO, the task force closely reviewed the status quo of the epidemic, current developments and strategies to prevent further spread.

The task force extensively discussed the emergence of new clusters, application of emergency procedures, facilitation of first, second and third contacts to new Quarantine Centres (QCs), management of patients at hospitals and makeshift places, re-evaluation of existing strategies and their repercussions, interconnections between those approaches, etc.

State Minister of Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research and Innovation, Dr. Seetha Arambepola, Secretary to the Ministry of Health, Major General Sanjeewa Munasinghe, acting Director General of Health Services and Medical Specialist, Dr. S. Sridharan and a few more stakeholders attended the meeting chaired by the Head of NOCPCO, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva.

At the start of the proceedings, the Army Commander presented a comprehensive account of current developments and fast increase in affected-numbers while elaborating on fast changing patterns of behavior of the emergence of clusters and more positive cases.

The task force members pointed out that strategies of managing affected patients in the wake of emergence of more positive cases at district level as well as admission possibilities that should go hand in hand with quarantining practice of first and second stage contacts should be properly interconnected in order to achieve national objectives at large without causing the epidemic to spread further.

It was also suggested that areas which were of greater relevance and importance be reviewed closely in comparison with new implications in order to get the best results out of such new adoptive methods and strategic applications as relationships with intelligence, service providers, and facilitators at the actual ground level be seen against modern technological accessories available.

The members informed that it should clearly showcase the cooperation that exists between health officials and the Army. Hence, the close evaluation of first and second contacts, self-quarantining process and tracing of such contacts were very much essential in an epidemic of this magnitude.

Participants highlighted the need of such deliberations as often as possible and application of most suitable strategic approaches as and when emergency requirements arose.

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PSC action could cripple health services, warns GMOA Secretary

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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

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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

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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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