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Sri Lanka’s public health inspectors withdraw from pandemic work

ECONOMYNEXT – The Public Health Inspectors’ (PHI) Union announced their withdrawal from COVID-19 related activities from today.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the PHI Union said that they will no longer participate in any COVID-19 related activities starting at 12.30 pm today in protest of a statement made by the Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi.

The Health Minister had said earlier that health guidelines related to COVID-19 for elections will be gazetted today, but in order to prevent any inconvenience that might be caused to the general public, the PHIs would not be given any powers to enforce the gazette.

The statement said that the PHI Union strongly condemns the “irresponsible” statement made by the Health Minister and that the members of the union are disappointed at her alleged attempt to paint the PHIs’ work to save Sri Lankan lives with minimum facilities and without even considering the risks to their own lives with no legal protection as a public inconvenience.

Speaking in an interview on YouTube, PHI Union Chairman Upul Rohana said that the government had failed to gazette a single law to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic under the quarantine act.

He said only the gazette related to cremation of the COVID-19 deaths has been gazetted so far.

With no regulation or law to manage the situation in the country, Rohana said, the general public quickly forgot about the pandemic once the first wave was over. “They went back to the way things were even before COVID-19 became a global pandemic,” he added.

It was the PHIs who constantly ensured that the public had adequate grocery supplies at home and carried regular health inspections, Rohana further said, charging that others are now trying to take credit for their good work.

The Health Ministry never invited any member of the PHI Union to any technical committee meeting with regard to the pandemic, he added. (Colombo/Jul17/2020-sb)

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