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UNP concerned over govt.’s delay in tackling fresh corona outbreak

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The United National Party (UNP) expressed grave concern over, what it called, the “government’s delayed response in curbing the fresh outbreak of Covid-19 in the country”.

Despite repeated World Health Organization warnings of a pending second wave, the government chose to propagate the idea that the virus has been tackled, without taking adequate steps to protect the citizens of the country from a resurgence, the UNP said in a media statement.

The government failed to enact relevant legislation, which would have benefited the anti-Covid efforts. The lack of proper laws resulted in the breakdown of the prevention methods as was seen Thursday (29) evening when people in Colombo left the city in large numbers ahead of the pending lockdown, the statement noted.

The inability of the government to curb the movement of citizens from the Western Province has now endangered the people of the other Provinces in the country, the statement said.

In April this year, the Leader of the UNP, Ranil Wickremesinghe and TNA MP, M. A. Sumanthiran drafted a Public Health Emergency Bill which was presented to the government. However, the government failed to act on the matter thereby rendering it ineffective, it continued.

The recent breakdown of a coronavirus mass testing machine will severely impact the government’s efforts to control the spread of the virus, the UNP said.

At present, it takes over five days for the government PCR tests to

return the results. This delay has an impact on both the health and safety of the public as well as the economic activities of the country. The unavailability of a testing machine will only serve to further delay the results of the PCR tests being conducted in the country, it added.

It was the responsibility of the government to have ensured adequate testing facilities around the country to prevent delays. There is also a concern regarding a pending shortage of hospital beds and ventilators. The government must make every effort to increase the capacity in the hospitals to accommodate patients from the second wave, it stressed.

The UNP urged the government to accord full priority to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, and uphold its duty of ensuring the health and safety of the citizens of the country.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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