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COVID 19 – Ranil wants testing increased as restrictions on movements are relaxed

ECONOMYNEXT – Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is calling on the government to increase community testing of people for the COVID 19 disease as restrictions on the movement of people are gradually being relaxed.

In a statement issued on Sunday, shortly before curfew regulations were relaxed in the Western Province, Wickremesinghe reiterated that at least 3,000 random PCR tests should be carried out every day.

“The prevailing crisis could worsen if social distancing is reduced without correspondingly increasing the number of PCR tests,” the United National Party leader said.

He said that the people have a number of questions on their minds, including when the country can reach the 3,000 mark in tests, whether the country has the required equipment and testing kits for this purpose and whether the needed supplies have been ordered.

Wickremesinghe also asked the government to ensure the safety of the frontline health workers and other state sector personnel engaged in dealing directly with COVID 19 patients or those who may have been exposed to infected persons.

“If these personnel are not protected then our crisis could become compounded,” he warned.

He said the entire process needs to have more transparency and “it is incumbent on the Minister of Health to inform the country about the steps that have been taken with regards to the COVID 19 pandemic since February,” Wickremesinghe said.

He said that we are “faced with a life or death situation here. We cannot allow anyone to play around with lives.”

He went on to say that the World Bank has allocated funds for Sri Lanka to deal with this crisis. Therefore “we should not be facing any financial issues in dealing with the pandemic,” he said.

In this context, the question arises as to how the issues can be resolved by asking state employees to donate their monthly pay to the Widows and Orphans Fund.

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“The government has to explain why this move was made and even contemplated,” Wickremesinghe asked.

The former Prime Minister was also critical of the way the government was communicating to the public.

“Government communiques with regard to the COVID 19 issue are complex, contradictory and difficult to understand,” he pointed out.

He recommended to the government that it adopt a simple and common means of communication.

He added that the UNP was not seeking narrow political gain during this crisis and will continue to make positive and constructive ideas and suggestions to deal with the crisis. (May 11, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana