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SL heading for another resurgence of the pandemic, Lab technologists warn



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A number of senior health officers had been compelled to leave the campaign against Covid-19 and their replacements were junior officers President of the College of Medical Laboratory Science, Ravi Kumudesh told The Island yesterday.

Kumudesh said the exodus of the capable and experienced professionals jeopardized the campaign against Covid-19.

“The President has to be consulted on any decision. The state labs can conduct 25,000 PCR tests a day, but fewer than 4,000 are done at present. We have been asking the government to provide 10 buses that we can use as mobile PCR testing units, but even after a year the government has not complied with our request. We have the best PCR lab at the BIA, with equipment worth over Rs. 100 million, but not a single tourist has been tested there. All the samples are sent to private labs.”

Kumudesh said while the campaign against Covid-19 was crumbling; the general public had been duped into thinking that the pandemic was under control and that the number of infections was dropping naturally.

“People think they are safe. They are being encouraged to celebrate the coming festive season. The government has been telling us that there has been a significant drop in new cases and now people think that the virus is under control. However, when we look at the world, we see that the virus is mutating.”

The President of the College of Medical Laboratory Science said that the variant that originated in England was prevalent in Sri Lanka and even the South African variant could be in the country.

“The virus has spread from the Western Province to the rest of the country. The numbers have dropped because we have reduced the number of tests. Because we do not test adequate numbers, we are only detecting those who are seriously sick or those who are dying. It will be silly if we delude ourselves into thinking that the numbers are actually dropping.”

Kumudesh added that Sri Lankan officials were even misleading the public about the money spent on PCR testing.

“The Minister of Health has said the government spends Rs. 80 million a day on PCR testing. The real number is less than Rs. 10 million. We have shown the ministry how we can actually make money from tourists. More importantly, if we don’t conduct PCR tests properly, we won’t be able to make right decision and contain the pandemic.’

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



… 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



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



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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