Attorney General Dappula De Livera has approved COVID-19 (Elections) Regulations 2020 submitted by the Health Ministry Secretary pertaining only to Election Meetings, canvassing and election offices today.
This was announced by the AG’s Coordinating Officer State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne.
Meanwhile,, the Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) today announced that the PHIs would withdraw from all COVID-19 duties across the island from 12.30 pm today.
The Government yesterday said that it was waiting for the
necessary advice from the Attorney General (AG) and the Legal Draftsman to gazette health guidelines to be followed during the General Election 2020.
Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, speaking at a discussion headed by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and held with the heads of media institutions, said the gazette with health guidelines would be issued today or tomorrow.
The health guidelines were prepared by the Health Ministry to be followed when casting votes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and they were handed over to the National Elections Commission.
Once they received the guidelines, the Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya requested Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe to gazette them thus making the people legally bound to it.
However, there was a delay in gazetting the guidelines with Mr. Deshapriya repeatedly saying at meetings held with elections officials that it would be difficult to hold the general elections due to COVID-19 pandemic sans gazetted guidelines.
He reiterated that no one wanted to postpone the election but said health guidelines needed to be gazetted to prevent any risk of COVID-19 breakout due to the general election.
“Unless it has been made the law and there is a fine or another punishment for breaking it, the people will not follow them voluntarily. There was an incident at a government office where health guidelines were not followed when casting postal votes in the North Western Province. That’s why we need the guidelines gazetted,” he said.
In the wake of the new cases reporting from the Kandakadu Rehabilitation and Treatment Centre, the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) on Monday requested the government to isolate the contaminated areas to prevent the spread of the virus to other areas.
GMOA Secretary Dr. Senal Fernand said the situation at the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Centre had created a severe risk of a “second wave” of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka.
At the meeting held at Temple Trees yesterday, GMOA Head Dr. Anurudda Padeniya said extensive measures needed to manage the situation and that around 4,000 PCR tests should be conducted daily in Sri Lanka.
However, Dr. Anil Jasinghe has not endorsed the GMOA request to increase daily PCR tests to 4,000 though he said they have increased it nonetheless.
Meanwhile, the Government Medical Officers Forum (GMOF)- another organisation of medical specialists-criticized the government for siding with the GMOA and seeking its consultations disregarding other medical organisations.
GMOF Chairman Dr. Rukshan Bellana said not only the GMOA which is a trade union but also the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMC) and Association of Medical Specialists should be included in discussions over COVID-19.