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Railway a ticking COVID-19 bomb, warns Station Masters Union

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Earlier precautions only observed in the breach

Train commuters were not transported in keeping with the health guidlines and that might lead to the community spread of COVID-19, Sri Lanka Station Masters’ Union (SLSMU) warned yesterday.

President of the SLSMU, Sumedha Somaratne said that the passengers had been asked to write their name, address, telephone number and national identity card number on a piece of paper and to put it into a box at the railway station. This was not a successful arrangement, Somaratne said.

“Sanitation facilities must be in place at the railway stations and passenger information must be gathered accurately. The government has said the number of passengers should not exceed 75% of the carrying capacity of a compartment. But how do we implement this? Do we count the number of passengers?

There is no way to ascertain the exact information on the number of passengers. This is not practical.”

The SLSMU added that the system of issuing train tickets online, which was implemented during the first wave of the COVID-19, was no longer in operation. Under that system passenger information was systematically stored, Somaratne said.

President of the SLSMU added that the efforts of the President, the Security forces and the health sector to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus would be in vain if the Railway authorities did not follow the online ticketing system.

Kasun Chamara, Secretary of the SLSMU, told The Island that the number of railway passengers could increase in the coming week, and a proper plan should be drawn up to collect passenger information, as the increase of passengers could increase the risk of spreading the virus. (RK)



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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