GMOA recommends precautionary ‘lockdowns’ as polls campaign continues

GMOA - Government Medical Officer's Association - Sri Lanka

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has recommended zonal lockdowns to thwart a possible second wave of corona infections.

GMOA Secretary, Dr. Senal Fernando, has, in a letter addressed to Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Direct General Health Services, said there is a serious threat of a second wave and countermeasures have to be adopted in the wake of the outbreak of Covid cases at Kandakadu Drug Rehabilitation and Treatment Centre.

The election is scheduled for August 5.

The GMOA has also reiterated its original demand that random sampling, covering the entire country, be carried out aggressively, with at least 2,500 RT-PCR tests a day. It has pointed out that in spite of repeatedly emphasising the need to step up testing, during the past several weeks the number of RT-PCR tests conducted on a daily basis, remained under 2000.

In its letter to Dr. Jasinghe, a copy of which was made available to The Island, Dr. Senal says Sri Lanka’s success in tackling the threat depends on three factors – political leadership and commitment, capacity of the health services and the commitment of the community.

The powerful doctors’ union however refrained from commenting on the parliamentary polls.

Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) heavyweight Lakshman Kiriella yesterday (15) told The Island that the party was going ahead with its campaign, cautiously. Kiriella, who leads the SJB in the Kandy electoral district, said that the SJB couldn’t abandon its grassroots level campaign.

“We’ll certainly follow guidelines, recommended by health authorities, though the government is yet to gazette them,” the former Leader of the House said. Former constituents of the UNP-led coalition, the SLMC, ACMC and JHU, contest the forthcoming polls on the SJB ticket.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris, yesterday told The Island that the government was doing everything possible to control the situation. “We suspended events attended by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa for three days beginning Monday,” the SLPP National List MP said, urging the people to have faith in the health administration and the armed forces as well as other service providers to neutralize the threat.

The former top internationally renowned legal academic said that those who feared to face the electorate considered the threat of a second wave an opportunity to postpone the scheduled general election.

Earlier President Gotabaya Rajapaksa called polls on April 25, having dissolved parliament on March 2.

UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe recently said in Kandy the government should consult the Election Commission (EC) as regards going ahead with parliamentary polls in view of the current corona crisis.

Army Chief Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, who heads a Task Force entrusted with tackling corona told The Island that the situation was under control and they were continuing with constant monitoring.

Director General of EC, Saman Ratnayake yesterday told The Island that countrywide postal voting was continuing this week. “We suspended voting only in the Rajanganaya Divisional Secretariat area,” Ratnayake said, adding that it would be conducted on July 28th.

Ratnayake said that the EC was going ahead with preparations for the conduct of the scheduled parliamentary polls. According to him, postal voting was to take place from Monday (13) to Friday (17).

Meanwhile, Dr. Jasinghe, responding to Chatura Alwis on Derana breakfast programme yesterday said that Rajanganaya was subjected to lockdown situation as part of the measures to prevent spreading of the virus. The DG, Health explained that they had never hesitated to respond to situations regardless of what various interested parties said. The top official stressed that their response would be proportional to exigencies faced therefore restrictions imposed on Rajanganaya was a case in point.

(Source: The Island – By Shamindra Ferdinando)