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UNP demands more COVID-19 testing, protective equipment for essential workers in Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s main opposition the United National Party (UNP) has urged the government to provide essential services staff and delivery staff with protective equipment.

Calling on the government to assist essential workers in carrying out their duties effectively and safely, the UNP said in a statement: “These individuals are risking their lives to ensure we stay home, the government has the responsibility to ensure their lives are also protected.”

Noting with concern the high number of confirmed COVI-19 cases in the armed forces, the UNP said the failure to protect those battling the virus on the frontlines is a “measurement of the Health Minister’s failure to understand the reality of the situation.”

“On April 18, Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Affairs Pavithra Wanniarachchi, told the people of Sri Lanka that the COVID-19 outbreak in the country had been contained and the nationwide curfew could be lifted. In the 10 days since the Minister made this announcement, the number of confirmed cases has risen by 334,” the statement said.

The party also called on the government to increase testing to 3,000 PCR tests a day.

“At the party leaders’ meeting on April 5, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the government to focus on increasing the number of PCR tests carried out per day as well as increasing the stock of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other necessary medical equipment. This request has also been made continually by members of the medical fraternity including the GMOA.”

The UNP said in comparison to countries like South Korea, New Zealand and Germany, Sri Lanka’s daily testing capacity was too low.

“The government’s swift action in locking-down the country will prove to have been ineffective unless more testing is done and those infected with the virus are identified and isolated from the rest of the community,” the statement said. (Colombo/May1/2020)

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