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Sri Lanka awaiting foreign expert to fix Coronavirus PCR machine



Sri Lanka is awaiting an expert from abroad to fix a high capacity Coronavirus testing machine which is out of order and is delaying test results the island’s anti-Covid task force chief General Shavendra Silva said.

“Our technicians tried very hard to fix it but could not,” he said, speaking to Sri Lanka’s privately-run Derana Television.

“We have worked at a diplomatic level to get down the technical officer. Most likely he will arrive tomorrow.”

He said the machine had been running without a break for almost a month since the outbreak.

As a result some test results were delayed, creating difficulties in making real time decisions, he said.

This was partly the reason for putting Coronavirus curfews in Maharagama and Panadura when a higher number of cases were found in Moratuwa he said.

However, there is a fall in the numbers in North Gampaha areas which are now under curfew, he said.

Sri Lanka found 335 new Coronavirus cases on October 28 taking the total in new clusters to 5,731, health ministry data showed as authorities continued to trace contacts and do targeted sample tests and new curfews.

The total went up to 9,205 on October 28.

Despite this on October 27, Sri Lanka labs had conducted 8,831 Coronavirus tests and 457 cases were found Deputy Health Director in charge of Laboratory Services Ananda Jayalal said.

The numbers in North Gampaha was starting to fall, General Silva said. Gampaha had been under curfew for almost a month.

Sri Lanka’s public health inspectors have said there is a two to three day delay in results coming out in some areas.

Researchers in Vietnam has said that there is on average a 06 day window to stop a confirmed person from infecting the next level.

Sri Lanka is placing the entire Western province under curfews.

Officials have asked the public not to cross district borders and stay in their own districts.

Deputy Inspector General Ajith Rohana said they had information that some people were planning to leave Colombo before the curfews.

He said the curfews were announced before hand so that people will not leave and hotels in Ella and other areas would not have to buy food and prepare.

“We have placed roadblocks already,” he said. “We have information that people are planning to leave before the curfew

“The curfews were placed to stop the spread of the disease from the Western province.”

Curfew is to lifted for the areas which will come under curfew tonight on Monday at 0500 hours.

Other areas will be under curfews and will open as scheduled for people to buy goods. (ECONOMYNEXT)



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Foreign force behind Easter Sunday attacks – Sirisena



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A powerful foreign country or an agency was behind the Easter Sunday bombings and the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zaharan Hashim, former President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday told the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

“I also do not believe that Zaharan was the leader of that organisation. Because a leader would never have initiated a suicide attack and died during the first wave,” Sirisena said.

The former President also said that Islamic extremism had spread rapidly in the country due to the support extremists received from Muslim politicians.

Sirisena also said that the military and intelligence officials had been demoralised by harassment they suffered during the yahaalanaya administration. This was the reason why local institutions failed to uncover NTJ’s plans. “But this incident is a conspiracy because it appeared that Zaharan was being manipulated by some foreign hand,” the former President said.

The President further said that during the previous administration, UNPers had headed the Ministry of Law and Order for several years that they had significantly weakened the intelligence services. Although he had taken the Ministry of law and Order in the last stages of the yahapalana government, he had not been able to undo the damage the UNP had done in four years, the witness said.

Commissioner: “Did you know that during your tenure as President, Muslim MPs and ministers were forcible acquiring land in Vanni and Batticaloa and they were constructing Muslim villages and mosques there?”

Sirisena: “Some ministers used their political power to clear forests and cultivate lands. Some ministers were angry with me when I tried to stop them. I tried hard to control those actions. But it was difficult for me to deal with that situation. Fundamentalism rose due to the protection given by Muslim political leaders. Certain political parties are based on religion, race and language. This is disastrous. I tried to stop these people but my decisions were not implemented.”



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Bathiudeen granted bail



Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was released on bail by the Fort Magistrate’s Court yesterday. Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage released Bathiudeen on cash bail of Rs. 100,000 with two sureties of one million rupees each.

The Magistrate also imposed a travel ban on Bathiudeen and said that the guarantors should be his close relatives.

The Magistrate granted bail to the MP considering the risk of him contracting COVID-19 as two inmates in cells next to his had recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Bathiudeen was remanded in connection with alleged misappropriation of public funds during the last presidential election to transport voters.

The former minister has been accused of misusing 222 buses owned by the SLTB for transporting internally displaced persons from Puttalam to polling stations in Silavathurai, Mannar during the 2019 Presidential Election. Two others, Mohamed Yaseen Samsudeen and Alagarathnam Manoranjan face the same charges.

They have allegedly violated Article 82(1) of Presidential Elections Act, No. 15 of 1981 by misappropriating public funds amounting to Rs. 9.5 million.

Bathiudeen was arrested at an apartment complex at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwala in the early hours of October 19. He was then produced before the court and placed under remand custody. His bail application was also rejected by the magistrate’s court on several occasions



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Zahran supported Sirisena and SLMC at 2015 elections, Hizbullah tells PCoI



By Rathindra Kuruwita

National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) and its leader Zahran Hashim supported Former President Maithripala Sirisena and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) at the 2015 elections, former Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M Hizbullah, on Tuesday night, told the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks.

Hizbullah was giving evidence before the PCoI for the second day.

“Zahran supported the SLMC at the 2015 general election. After the UNP-led coalition won the election, NTJ members fought with our supporters. Several people were injured during the clash, including Zahran’s brother. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem visited Zahran’s brother at the hospital.”

The witness also submitted a footage of a demonstration opposite NTJ Headquarters in Kattankudy. It contained a speech by Zahran, who expressed his dismay after Sirisena appointed Hizbullah as a national list MP.

“In this video, Zahran clearly says he supported Maithripala Sirisena at the 2015 presidential election. Zahran also says he sent a fax to the former President, urging him not to appoint me to Parliament.”

However, it was earlier revealed that in 2015, representatives of five recognised political parties, including the UPFA and the UNP, had signed agreements with Zahran in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Representatives of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG), too, had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for NTJ support, the Commission was told.

Hizbullah, on Monday, admitted that his party had also signed an agreement with the NTJ.

“Zahran told social media that he would support any politician who agreed to his proposals. All the parties joined him. I also went along.”

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