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Sumanthiran making ‘constructive comments’ urges govt to revise out-dated laws to tackle the pandemic



By Saman Indrajith

Jaffna District TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran urged the government to bring in new laws to deal with the current situation prevailing in the country owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participating in a debate on COVID-19 at the time of the adjournment of the House on Friday, the MP said the existing laws were not adequate to tackle the issues resulting from the pandemic.

“I said during the lockdowns that there was a need for new legislation to counter the situation as the quarantine and infectious diseases ordinances we have are over 100 years old. The PHIs’ Union has written to the government that these laws are not adequate to tackle the current crisis. Therefore, we even asked Parliament to be reconvened during the time it was dissolved to make new laws.

“We don’t even have laws to impose curfew properly. Although everyone has to go with what is happening today, it is illegal as there is nothing called quarantine curfew or police curfew. I pointed out this to the Health Minister. The Health Minister then said that she had issued a gazette notification regarding these issues.”

MP Sumanthiran said that the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, on a representation made by him, had written to the government saying that imposition of some regulations without proper backing of statutes was unlawful. “This could be rectified and all the government needs to do is bring in new laws so the officials fighting against the pandemic are protected by the law and the government can do things lawfully.

“It is a known fact that there is community spread and it can be denied, but from what’s happening around us we have every reason to believe that the situation is rather grim. It’s also unfortunate that the members of the government ranks are using the situation to score political points by congratulating the President and the fair minister.”

The MP said that the question was not how well the government had performed; the question was there was a serious issue that needed to be addressed.

He also urged the Health Minister to look into the issue of lack of facilities at the Maradankerny Hospital as it had been brought to his notice that it lacked basic facilities such as water and sanitary facilities.

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Majority of 300 luxury vehicles to be released



… some shipped in without opening LCs, EU wants restrictions abolished

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The majority of the luxury vehicles imported by special permit holders in contravention of the import ban imposed by the government in view of precarious economic situation caused by corona first wave are likely to be released subject to penalties.

Well informed sources said that those vehicles shipped in without even opening LCs would be released. Among the violators were many government servants.

Sources said that vehicles brought in without opening LCs were likely to be confiscated.

“We have categorised over 300 vehicles, including BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Audis into two groups. Customs are now in the process of evaluating individual cases,” a high ranking state official said.

The government announced a ban on vehicle imports to arrest the depletion of foreign reserves. Sources acknowledged that at the time the vehicles

arrived in Sri Lanka the second corona wave hadn’t erupted. The situation was far worse now and further deteriorating, they said, adding that the Customs were being inundated with requests for releasing vehicles on sympathetic grounds.

Controversy surrounds the failure on the part of the government to strictly implement the import ban in view of the sharp drop in state revenue due to the pandemic.

Recently, the EU demanded that Sri Lanka immediately lift import ban or face the consequences. The EU issued the warning in talks with government representatives. Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena explained the circumstances that compelled the government to impose import restrictions. The EU sought an explanation as to when the ban would be lifted. The Foreign Ministry quoted Foreign Minister Gunawardena as having explained to the EU the challenges Sri Lanka economy was facing amidst the dwindling foreign currency reserve situation due to the significant reduction in remittances and tourism revenue induced by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The minister said that the import restrictions were being reviewed.

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Nearly 74,000 persons under home quarantine



Close to 74,000 people belonging to 27,974 families had been placed under home quarantine, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said on Wednesday (25).

He said that the number of cases from the Minuwangoda and Peliyagoda clusters had increased to 17,436 with 458 persons had tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Two wards of the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital, Panadura were temporarily closed on Wednesday after two pregnant women admitted there tested COVID-19 positive.

The two women are from Atalugama, which has been declared an isolated area. During the last few days close to half of the COVID-19 patients detected in Colombo District are from Atalugama.

The two women have been sent to Neville Fernando Hospital, Malabe. The patients and staff in Wards 3 and 4 at the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital are now under quarantine. Their family members too have been asked to undergone self-quarantine.

The Police had arrested 61 persons who had violated quarantine laws within the 24 hours that ended at 8 am yesterday, Police spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana said, adding that they had been arrested for not wearing masks or for not maintaining physical distancing. With those altogether 688 persons had been arrested for violating quarantine laws from October 30, he said.

Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya said that apart from Welikada, the spread of COVID-19 had been controlled at other prisons. COVID-19 cases had been reported from six prisons, he added.

“We are conducting PCR tests and hope that the situation in Welikada too would be brought under control. Twenty four new cases were detected from prisons on November 24 and from October 04, we have identified 708 cases within the prison system.”

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Severity of impact of second wave on economy could be far worse than anticipated – CBSL



By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

The impact of the second wave of COVID-19 could be severer on the economic growth than previously anticipated, Director of Economic Research at the Central Bank Dr. Chandranath Amarasekara said yesterday (26).

Dr. Amarasekera said so responding to a query by The Island at a CBSL media briefing. The top official said that an assessment couldn’t be made yet as the second wave was continuing.

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