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Lighting up curfew-hit Vesak

Lighting up curfew-hit Vesak

It was a quiet stay at home Vesak for most people this week. They listened to Vesak sermons on radio and TV. Venturing out were a few people like these Colombo Municipal Council workers who placed oil lamps near the Buddha statue at the Viharamahadevi Park. Pic by M.A. Pushpakumara

Election on June 20: EC to decide on Tuesday

The Election Commission (EC) will review on Tuesday whether it will be feasible to conduct elections on June 20 or if another suitable date will have to be announced, its Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya declared yesterday. He told the Sunday Times that at the proposed meeting, the commission would examine all aspects of the prevailing situation [...]

COVID control: Gazette to enforce tough guidelines

A Gazette giving legal teeth to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is due to be issued this weekend, as Colombo and a few other districts open under a controlled mechanism, a high-level health official said. The Gazette to be issued under the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance would ensure social distancing and [...]

IMF considers Lanka’s request for rapid financing facility

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is evaluating Sri Lanka’s request for a rapid financing facility to support the country during the coronavirus pandemic. Fifty countries, including Sri Lanka, are to be assessed to receive this facility with approval already given to requests for emergency pandemic aid from 50 more countries out of its 189 members. [...]

CEB’s costly gas power generation fuels criticism

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) operated a pair of expensive gas turbines throughout January, generating 8.8 gigawatts at approximately Rs 62 per unit despite having sufficient water to generate hydropower. A unit of electricity generated from hydro sources is, in comparison, around Rs 4 while diesel-powered plants yield a unit at between Rs 22 and [...]

Air purifiers for hospitals: All’s not clean

Passing the buck and cutting phone calls were the response of many high-level Health Ministry officials to the Sunday Times as soon as “air-purifiers” were mentioned yesterday, while the Project Director was insistent that nothing has been finalised yet. A list of questions emailed to Health Secretary Bhadrani Jayawardena, on her request on Tuesday – [...]

Households will have to depend on deliveries for longer

A lengthy curfew due to the coronavirus means, households in the Western Province will have to get used to home deliveries of essential groceries, health officials caution. The Colombo Municipal Council, Chief Medical Officer, Ruwan Wijayamuni, said people will need to rely on mobile vendors for vegetables and daily necessities, even if  the curfew is [...]

Sacred Buddhist day gives way to deadly sickness on doorstep

Sacred Buddhist day gives way to  deadly sickness on doorstep

Buddhists and other Sri Lankans marked the most scared day in the Buddhist religious calendar this year mostly indoors, forced into the situation by the coronavirus that is threatening their lives. And the lives of many poor who depend on Vesak to make a living were also darkened. Large-scale Buddhist religious observances were shelved and [...]

A bread dansal brought to their doorstep

A bread dansal brought to their doorstep

A bakery owner in Ambalantota this week distributed bread baked in his own bakery to residents in the absence of dansal to mark Vesak .  

Police continue to monitor stranded workers returning to their homes

Police continue to monitor stranded workers returning to their homes

  More than 50,000 people stranded in Colombo are being sent to their home districts in batches, with the latest group being dispatched yesterday, ending their six-week-long hardships. Most of them said they were struggling to find food and proper accommodation while they were running out of cash to buy day-to-day needs. Factory worker A [...]

Vesak 2020 amidst COVID-19

Vesak 2020 amidst COVID-19

Perpetrators of “singithi paathalaya” on social media tracked down

Disturbing videos of young children, in what came to be known as a “singithi paathalaya” (Children’s underworld) have swarmed social media in recent weeks. Children, some as young as six years, were recorded making disturbing threats of violence against each other under names like “Nikaweratiye Sahan”, “Nadeera Max”, and “Sellakara Maliya”. Some videos even had [...]

‘Thank you for bringing us home safely’

‘Thank you for bringing us home safely’

The Foreign Ministry has expanded its repatriation efforts to students in other regions of the world, after concluding repatriation of Sri Lankan students across South Asia. Approximately 208 students were repatriated from the UK on a special Sri Lankan Airlines flight that landed at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) on May 4. Roma Vedamuttu, a [...]

A monk shows the way in cultivation

A monk  shows the way in cultivation

With a new interest in farming and cultivation a group of Buddhist monks in Polgahawela have started preparing the fields to cultivate paddy. Ven Wimalawa Chandrajothi, chief incumbent of the Puhuriya Rajamaha Viharaya and Shri Anandaramaya was instrumental in getting the monks to start preparing the field.  

Department of Immigration and Emigration open from tomorrow

The Department of Immigration and Emigration will be open with effect from tomorrow except on public holidays, the department said in a statement yesterday. The general public who visit the department to obtain services must follow health guidelines and other regulations in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The department also announced yesterday that [...]

Serving police officers to be detailed as personal assistants to retired IGPs , SDIGs

The Government is to provide retired Inspector Generals of Police (IGPs) and former Senior Deputy Inspector Generals of Police (SDIGs) with a number of serving police officers as personal assistants. Accordingly, a retired IGP will be provided with a detail of one Sub Inspector, one Police Sergeant, two constables and a police driver while a [...]

SC disregards curfew period

The Supreme Court has issued a gazette notification which disregards the six-week period from March 16 to May 18 for court matters in view of the curfew imposed during that period. Sources said this would be applicable for Special Leave to Appeal where there is a particular time frame to appeal.

Land grab in Kataragama halted

Police have arrested 10 persons who were allegedly involved in grabbing state land in the Kandasurindugama area of Kataragama. An officer attached to the Kataragama Police said that following the exposure that state land was being encroached on, an investigation was carried out and the persons were arrested. The Sunday Times last week reported about [...]

Agri grads shut out of department jobs as legal dispute continues

Agri grads shut out of department jobs as legal dispute continues

Thousands of agriculture graduates seeking jobs in the Agriculture Department have to wait until the Agriculture Department and eight fundamental rights petitioners, including the All Ceylon Agriculture Instructors Association, sort out a legal dispute. Some 4,000 graduates from the universities of Peradeniya, Ruhuna, Sabragamauwa, Jaffna, Uva-Wellassa, Wayamba and Batticaloa are eligible to apply for the [...]

Here are the Sunday Times questions and UNICEF’s response

Q. The Sunday Times would like to know from whom in the Health Ministry the “formal” request came? Was it an official letter or an email and who has signed it? UNICEF received a formal request from the Ministry of Health via email. Q. What was listed on the list of surgical consumables, medical consumables [...]

Fisheries harbour gets virus cleanup

Fisheries harbour gets virus cleanup

With the curfew set to be lifted in 21 districts tomorrow, preparations were made in several parts of the country to open up more facilities for the public. Health officials are seen here spraying disinfectant at the Beruwala fisheries harbour. Pic by Thushara de Silva 

Highways Ministry to borrow Rs. 15bn from China to develop 105km of roads

The Highways Ministry is to borrow Rs 15bn from the China Development Bank (CDB) to develop 105km of roads in Sri Lanka, the Government said this week, without specifying precise locations or explaining its urgency in the midst of a global pandemic. The loan is under the continuing ‘Priority Roads Project’ or PRP, authoritative sources [...]

With grapes and pears, see how their gardens grow

With grapes and pears, see how their gardens grow

Home gardeners in Nuwara Eliya have shown that fruits that we usually import can be grown in thecool climes of little England. D.W.A.D.Somawathi from Lady Maclom Road showed off his grape vine that has  been  giving him a crop twice a year. “I get 10kg of grapes at a turn,” he said. Premasiri Edirisinghe also [...]

Time-tested public health exercise helped keep COVID-19 under control in SL

Time-tested public  health exercise  helped keep COVID-19  under control in SL

There will be some relaxation of the restrictions next week, a top health official said, reiterating that COVID-19 has been brought under control and there is no community spread. “We did not leave room for a community spread, though some clusters bloated the figures. We are still very watchful and vigilant over all those in [...]

The dos and don’ts as civilian life to resume amidst COVID-19

The dos and don’ts as civilian life to resume amidst COVID-19

As the country gears up  for the resumption of civilian life from tomorrow, questions remain regarding  how a host of measures aimed at restoring normalcy in the country will fare, with  COVID-19 still an ever-present threat. As this article was being  written on Saturday, Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi was due to issue an  extraordinary gazette [...]

Voice against use of ‘decontamination chambers’

Voice against use of ‘decontamination chambers’

Categorically the Sri Lanka College of Microbiologists has decried the use of ‘decontamination chambers’ as a measure to minimize the spread of COVID-19. These chambers – installed in many places including the Health Ministry, with people being compelled to walk through them – use different kinds of spray including alcohol, chlorine compounds, ozonated water, soapy [...]

Two women die of COVID-19

With two more deaths from COVID-19 taking place this week, the first women to succumb to the illness, the Sunday Times sought an insight into the week’s event from the Health Ministry’s Chief Epidemiologist, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera. “Yes, there was one patient who got re-infected. He was ready for discharge but when the final test [...]

PCR testing: University labs strongly dispel allegations

Three university laboratories which have put their shoulder to the wheel in this national crisis of COVID-19 to support the Health Ministry by performing RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction) were quick to respond to allegations made by medical technologist Ravi Kumudesh. Mr. Kumudesh alleged that there were issues over a few samples tested by these [...]

Strong plea to strengthen grass-root Primary Medical Care Units to face post-COVID-19 era

Strong plea to strengthen grass-root Primary Medical Care Units to face post-COVID-19 era

A mother with a five-year-old child who has fever, cold and cough goes to the Outpatients’ Department (OPD) of a state hospital on a Monday morning. The child has been ill for a day, the OPD doctor examines the child, prescribes some medicine and the mother and child go home. By Tuesday evening, the cough [...]

Ragama Hospital armed to face the future with its Family Physicians to the fore

Ragama Hospital armed to face the future with its Family Physicians to the fore

The new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and all the dangers posed by it are here to stay. The North Colombo (Ragama) Teaching Hospital had a system in place which moved smoothly soon after the COVID-19 crisis hit, which enabled its staff to look after the patients already under its care while gathering more under this health umbrella. [...]

Choon Paan, the “most wanted” man!

Choon Paan, the “most wanted” man!

In every nook and cranny of the country, the “most wanted” person is the Choon Paan man, for whose earlier much-maligned music everyone strains their ears to catch these days. The Sunday Times stopped S. Madialagan (28) in his tracks in Kelaniya for a brief chat as he rushed around distributing those much-longed for dara [...]

Potential vaccine has worked in mice, says an Italian company

A vaccine has been developed to contain COVID-19 which is likely to work in humans, Italian researchers have announced. The vaccine which has worked in mice is to be tested on humans after the summer (June-August). According to a web search, a Rome-based biotechnology company, Takis, has said that two potential vaccines out of five [...]

Stranded tourists keep spirits up despite coronavirus woes

Stranded tourists keep spirits up despite coronavirus woes

The Mirissa beach would have been bustling with tourists during this period, if not for the coronavirus threat. This Matara district resort area is more or less a microcosm of most coronavirus-hit tourist hotspots in the country. Hotels are almost deserted, most of them closed and the staff sent on leave. Occasionally, a few tourists [...]

GCE AL exams – decisions need to be taken and communicated quickly

GCE AL exams – decisions need to be taken and communicated quickly

The Education Ministry is one of the sectors which will have to reorganise and reset its plans and programmes due to the COVID-19 pandemic fallout that has affected Sri Lanka. While the impact on the economy will be more visible and immediate, the repercussions on the education sector will be more long term and less [...]

Fraudsters ripping off cash through phone scams

Whilst an entire nation is fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, criminals are seizing the opportunity to extort money from the innocent public through an organised crime, Police said yesterday. The modus operandi, they said, was for a gang member to pretend he was a Police Sub Inspector to telephone pre-identified homes and tell the chief occupant [...]

India’s new envoy lands with medicines

India’s new envoy lands with medicines

A consignment of essential medicines and medical items dispatched by India as a gift was received at the Bandaranaike International Airport on Friday. The consignment of 12.5 tonnes was the fourth in recent weeks. The medical consignment reached Colombo with High Commissioner-designate of India to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay on board the same flight, the [...]

Virus, curfew traumatising millions of children

Millions of children living with their families and thousands in public and private care centres are bearing the brunt of the pain and suffering, physically and mentally, due to the lockdown meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus in the island. There are also children who are infected with the virus. The National Child [...]

The New President versus the Old Parliament

The New President versus the Old Parliament

There is a standoff between the New President and the Old Parliament.  The Old Parliament wants the New President to recall it.  And the New President wants to bring in a New Parliament that supports him. But both are stuck.  The Old Parliament does not have the power to recall itself.  It depends on the [...]

Diagnostic testing for COVID-19: A guide to basic principles

Diagnostic testing  for COVID-19: A guide to basic principles

Today the world faces a situation like none other than is known in living memory. Heart-rending images abound on TV and social media, as the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 burns its way across the world. Whilst we watch in shock and horror, scientists from far flung corners of the earth are racing to find ways to [...]

The onslaught of the waves

The onslaught  of the waves

The scenic Koggola sea belt, a tourist attraction, is being subjected to severe coastal erosion. A 1.5 km long, 30m wide stretch of beach is being washed away, and parapet walls, Pandanaceae plants (Wetake), coconut trees and   other protective buffers have perished, having failed against the onslaught of the waves. The rough sea waves continue [...]

Pick of the pix

Pick of the pix

Welikada Prison: Art beyond bars Colombo: The lotus carriers This little light of mine Cinnamon Grand: Novel decor Colombo Port: Spreading the light Akuressa: A concerted attempt Matara: The long arm of the law Gangaramaya: Illuminating the way

Tuktuks gearing to go, but lack of regulatory body may create problems, warns official

Tuktuks gearing to go, but lack  of regulatory body may create  problems, warns official

Hundreds and thousands of three-wheeler drivers battered financially for over a month are waiting to hit the roads of Colombo and its suburbs once the island-wide lockdown is relaxed, but desperate drivers may overcharge and even act irresponsibly with no regulatory body to check on them, the three-wheeler drivers’ association warns. Association president Lalith Dharmasekare [...]

Volunteers go in search of undocumented poor people and care home residents

From the daily wage labourer in Pettah to the wayside vade seller, informal sector earners were among the hardest hit groups during the more than 50-day-long lockdown — and due to most of them being undocumented, they were overlooked by area politicians and state authorities in relief distribution. This grim reality was highlighted by a [...]

Shortage of masks, gloves and sanitisers as people get ready to return to work

Shortage of masks, gloves  and sanitisers as people  get ready to return to work

The government’s decision to lift restrictions to enable more people to return to work in the Western Province and bring back normalcy, has created a shortage of masks, gloves and sanitisers in pharmacies. The National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) said that the demand for the items among offices, businesses and workers reporting to work has [...]

Pera engineering undergrads develop remote system to monitor patients in isolation wards

A group of Peradeniya University engineering undergraduates have developed a remote system whereby the health conditions of as many as 30 isolated Covid-19 suspect patients could be monitored from a control room or from a consultant’s mobile phone. Group leaders Kesera Weerasinghe and Kasun Vithanage said the system was successfully tested at the Peradeniya Teaching [...]

Health before education: Parents, teachers say no to school until safety is assured

The government has shelved plans to reopen schools on tomorrow,, as parents and teachers insist that the situation is still not conducive for children to come out of their homes with more Covid-19 cases being reported from several parts of the country. Parents and teachers said in one voice that the time was not right [...]

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