Upsurge in COVID deaths and cases, but Government wants normal work from tomorrow

Coronavirus - COVID-19

Despite close to 250 people dying from COVID-19 this week and daily COVID positive cases exceeding 2,000 during the past few days, the Government is determined to fully resume public services from tomorrow in a move that will bring thousands of state sector employees to Colombo and its suburbs via public transport.

According to the Health Ministry’s Epidemiology Unit, between July 26 and 30, some 233 people have died from COVID with Wednesday recording 66 deaths. Country’s total COVID-19 death count now stands at 4,324. Meanwhile 24,666 people are being treated in hospitals for COVID-19.

The daily COVID-19 caseloads too have increased from about 1,500 a day during the previous week to more than 2,000 this week. On Thursday, 2,329 people tested positive for the virus and another 2,455 were confirmed COVID positive on Friday.

Public Service Ministry Secretary J.J. Ratnasiri told the Sunday Times that the circular issued by him on Friday would definitely be implemented from tomorrow as the country’s vaccination drive had been successful and a majority of public servants had been vaccinated.

Accordingly, all state sector employees in ministries, state ministries, provincial councils, departments, district secretariats and divisional secretariats, corporations, statutory boards will have to report to work tomorrow.

“Work from home or working on a rotation basis does not provide an efficient service to the people. As instructed by the Secretary to the President, priority will be given to normal functioning of the Public Service since the majority of government officials have been vaccinated,” he said.

Mr. Ratnasiri said discussions had taken place with the transport authorities to ensure there were enough office trains and buses to transport employees while adhering to health guidelines.

Heads of institutions will be responsible for employees following health guidelines and averting a situation which may cause the spread of COVID-19 among the staff and the people.

The circular states that all public servants should maintain the social distance, wear face masks and wash hands frequently.

“In case where a public officer has been directed to a quarantine process under regulations applied for quarantine and further that officer has been directed for quarantine not as a punishment for violation of the Government Quarantine Rules and Regulations, the period of quarantine of such officer should be treated as a period of leave with full pay as per the provisions of sub section 12.9, Chapter XII of the Establishments Code,” the circular states.

“Relevant authorities will ensure the operation of common transport facilities properly for the convenience of officers to report for duty without difficulty,” it says.

(Source: The Sunday Times – By Nadia Fazlulhaq)