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.’
SF claims thousands of police and military personnel leaving
By Saman Indrajith
Thousands of police and military personnel had left the services recently as they did not want to carry out illegal orders, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka told Parliament yesterday. According to the war-winning army commander 200 policemen have resigned during the past two months and 25,000 soldiers have left the army during the last two years.
“We urged the law enforcement and military officials not to follow illegal orders. We will reinstate them with back pay,” he said.
Fonseka also urged the President and the government MPs not to take people for fools.
“Sri Lanka owes 55 billion dollars to the world. Ranil’s plan is to borrow another seven billion during the next four years. So, in four years we will owe 62 billion to the world.
Ranil and his ministers ask us what the alternative to borrowing is. These are the people who destroyed the economy and society. They must leave. Then, we will find an alternative and develop the country,” he said, adding that the IMF loans had made crises in other nations worse.
“Ranil says that by 2025, we will have a budget surplus as in Japan, Germany and South Korea. These countries are economic power houses, and this comparison is ludicrous.”
CEB hit by exodus of technical staff
By Shiran Ranasinghe
At least five technical personnel of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) resigned daily for overseas employment, a senior CEB official said.They included electrical engineers, electricians and foremen, he added.
“Most of them are quitting due to the economic crisis while others are simply disillusioned. Trained and experienced technical staff are in high demand in many countries,” he said.
CEB United Trade Union Alliance President Ranjan Jayalal said that the CEB had lost about 2,000 employees in recent times due to the above reasons.
“We had about 24,000 such personnel a few months ago. Now the number has come down to 22,000. A number of people had to retire on 31 December, 2022.
Sajith questions sudden decision to charge Rs. 225,000 from students following NDES
By Saman Indrajith
The government had decided to charge Rs 225,000 from those enrolling at the Institute of Engineering Technology, Katunayake under the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said yesterday in Parliament.
Premadasa said that the institute awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences (NDES) and no fee was charged from students until 2023.The IET awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences under the three major fields of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, and eight sub-fields.
“This is an institute that has created over ten thousand tier two engineers. NDES is a four year programme,” he said.
The opposition leader said that the sudden decision to charge 225,000 rupees from students at a time when the average Sri Lankan family is facing significant economic challenges is unfair.
“This institute offered free tuition. We should continue this tradition. A large number of engineers are leaving the country and we need to ensure that we have a continuous supply of engineers to ensure we can maintain our essential technical services,” he said.
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