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Sri Lanka will continue to cremate all Covid dead – Minister

Sri Lankan-Canadians of all faiths joined in protesting forced cremation of Muslims who die of Covid in Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will continue to cremate the bodies of all its citizens who die of Covid 19 whatever social or religious objections are raised, the country’s Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told Parliament today.

Muslims in the country have raised strong objections to the cremations saying that it is abhorrent to followers of their faith. Christian groups have also joined in the protest saying that all those following the Abrahamic faiths prefer burial to cremation.

Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic Church has not taken a public position although some individual priests and Nuns have joined protests staged in several parts of the country against the practice.

The minister was responding to a question posed by Opposition Parliamentarian Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam who asked whether a report made by eminent Virologists which said both cremation and burial could be allowed under strict conditions was being considered by the government.

Ponnambalam asked whether the government was ignoring the science as stated by the Virologists and Microbiologists. This committee is headed by Prof Jennifer Perera Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the Colombo University.

In reply, Wanniarachchi said that the main committee that makes the decisions with regard to this issue has been handed a copy of the report and they are yet to make a decision.

The main committee is headed by Pathologist Dr Channa Perera, she said.

“When faced with such a serious pandemic situation we cannot take actions based on the social or political feelings of groups, but have to be guided by science,” she said.

Ponnambalam strenuously argued that she had not given a proper answer to his question. But Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene cut the argument short.

The Health Minister said the Virologists had first met with the State Minister for Covid Prevention Dr Sudarshini Fernandopulle and presented their case.

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Thereafter Wanniarachchi said she had also met them and asked them to provide a report which she has handed over to the main committee.

In addition to the Virologists report the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka (CCPSL) also made a public statement that burials could be permitted as nearly 85,000 research papers published about the Covid 19 virus provided no evidence that there was contamination of groundwater due to the burial of these corpses.

Sri Lanka and China are the only countries in the world that disallow burial of Covid victims.

The World Health Organisation also permits the burials of Covid victims.(Colombo, January 7, 2021)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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