Leader of the United National Party former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has requested the President to call an all party meeting to discuss future steps to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The former Prime Minister also presented several proposals to save the country from the catastrophe, after considering the rapid spread of the virus and increasing number of COVID-related deaths.
Wickremesinghe urged the President to summon all party leaders as well as the Speaker of House and the Minister of Health to the meeting.
The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading rapidly in the country. The total death toll has now exceeded 5,000. An independent team of experts from the World Health Organization’s Sri Lanka office has suggested that the death toll in Sri Lanka could rise to 30,000.
The entire healthcare sector in the country has been forced to work harder to combat COVID-19. Therefore, it has been warned that with the increase in the number of patients, the health sector in the country is likely to collapse.
Representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) have stated in their report that 12,000 deaths could have been prevented if certain steps had been taken by the Sri Lankan government in May. Health officials say that if they act, another 18,000 lives could be saved.
The American University of Washington presented a similar statistical analysis. It is very clear that the country is heading for a catastrophe if we do not control the pabdemic at this time. Our country is currently facing a serious disaster.
As the United National Party, we recently presented a series of proposals to save the country from this catastrophe. I have previously requested that a date be set aside in Parliament to discuss the COVID-19 crisis as well as how to save the country from this catastrophe. But this is not the time for Parliament to convene. Because at the moment several MPs are infected with the virus.
However, I urge the President at this juncture to summon all party leaders in Parliament. Also, the Speaker as well as the Prime Minister should be summoned to this meeting. In addition, the Ministers of Health need to be summoned for this discussion. I urge you to let us know what steps the government will take to control COVID-19. There we can present our ideas and discuss.
The other thing is to reduce the number of deaths, we must commit to a program that protects the health system and provides health care to all. There everyone can discuss and come to a consensus. Therefore, I think it is timely to convene a meeting of the party leaders.
I urge the President to convene a meeting of party leaders soon to consider this proposal. Other leaders will also have the opportunity to present their views, ideas and suggestions. There will be a number of things we can all agree on.
I also suggest discussions with non-political religious leaders, businessmen, artists, professionals and trade union leaders.