Amongst a series of suggestions submitted to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), led by former Opposition Leader, Sajith Premadasa is a recommendation that individual rooms be provided to those being quarantined instead of housing them in dormitory type settings.  The recommendation stems following reports that an individual who had successfully completed the quarantine period, has since, tested positive for the Corona virus.

The suggestions have been made at a meeting with the President on April 6 in which Mr. Premadasa and General Secretary of the Alliance, Ranjith Madduma Bandara participated, according to a press release  of the SJB.

The SJB which is also calling for increased testing to identify those affected by COVID-19, to  mitigate community spread is also asking that local businesses involved in the manufacture of masks, protective gear, and medicines etc. be given the support they need to develop those products.   Additionally, the statement says that the SJB has recommended that the government obtain the services of both Western and Ayurveda infectious diseases specialists, to fight the spread of the virus.

While appreciating the work of the medical and security personnel during this crisis, the SJB has also drawn attention to shortcomings contained in legislation covering Public Health Inspectors.

Alliance leader Premadasa had also pointed to the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of patients with underlying conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, cancer and hypertension. There have been several complaints and allegations that protection for these patients who are more susceptible to COVID-19 are overlooked.  SJB is recommending that the local manufacture of drugs necessary for diabetes, heart, cancer etc. be given a boost to prevent shortages and that drugs being used to treat COVID-19 patients globally be checked out, with a view to importing same.

As well, the SJB has drawn the attention of the President to shortcomings in distribution of food and medicines during this period when the country is under a curfew. In particular, SJB has raised the importance of ensuring that residents in the isolated cities of Akurana and Atalugama receive continued and adequate supplies of food and medicine.

The SJB points out that it is vital that the entire distribution process of relief measures be devoid of politicisation. The alliance has stated that while the government machinery to implement this exercise exists and is capable of carrying out its task, adding political personalities such as local government representatives to the distribution network is unnecessarily complicating the process.

The statement also adds that the discussion included the appointment of a committee that would set out funeral rites for COVID-19 fatalities in keeping with recommendations of the World Health Organisation and the Government Medical Officers Association while being sensitive to the cultural practices and rights of various communities and ensuring that protections introduced to prevent the spread of the virus are safeguarded.

SJB is also requesting the government to provide relief measures at the rate of Rs. 5,000 per person, in line with the Census and Statistics Departments determination that monthly cost of living for an individual is the amount mentioned above.  The alliance has also drawn attention to the difficulties faced by the plantation workers and those in ancillary services, emphasising that satisfactory relief measures be implemented to assist them.  The need for the introduction of special measures to assist poorer sections of society living in cities and villages has also been discussed.

The alliance has also asked the government to implement a method to facilitate the return of migrant workers to their hometowns as they are currently trapped in the cities owing to imposition of the indefinite curfew.  While this must be carried out in consultation with health officials, the government must also provide them with some relief measures.

Another area discussed has been the small and medium business ventures and the tourism sector, which have been negatively impacted by the crisis, with the Alliance recommending immediate and long-term relief measures to the affected.


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