Economic crisis may lead to more deaths than Covid, doctors say; 19 Lankans reach Tamil Nadu to seek asylum in India

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The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) has said that all hospitals in the country no longer have access to imported medical tools and life-saving drugs. Several facilities have already suspended routine surgeries since last month because they were dangerously low on anaesthetics, but SLMA said even emergency procedures may not be possible very soon.

“We are made to make very difficult choices. We have to decide who gets treatment and who doesn’t,” the group said on Sunday, after publishing a letter they had sent to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa a few days earlier warning him of the situation.

“If supplies are not restored within days, the losses will be much worse than those of the pandemic.” Growing public anger over the crisis has seen large protests calling for Rajapaksa’s resignation.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has invited allies from the eleven-party coalition comprising 42 independent MPs for a discussion on the country’s worst economic crisis, according to a media report. During the meeting, which is due to take place on Sunday evening, MPs will also ask the president to impeach his elder brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and appoint a new cabinet to deal with the unprecedented crisis facing the island nation.

Last week, the entire Sri Lankan cabinet resigned except for Mahinda at a time when the country was facing its worst economic crisis since its independence from the United Kingdom in 1948. During the meeting, the MPs will also deliver a list of proposals to President Rajapaksa to pull Sri Lanka out of the current economic and political crisis, the Colombo Page news portal reported.

This letter bearing the signatures of the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Former President Maithripala Sirisena, MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara, MP Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and Council of President Wijayadasa Rajapaksha on behalf of the 42 MPs who left the government and sat in parliament as an independent MP group, was sent to the president on Friday, Lankadeepa reported.

These political maneuvers took place in the midst of a massive street demonstration against the government demanding the resignation of the Sri Lankan president. People have been protesting for weeks over long power cuts and shortages of gas, food and other basics.

Since Saturday, demonstrators from all walks of life have marched through Galle Face where the Rajapaksa secretariat is located. President Rajapaksa and his older brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, continue to hold power in Sri Lanka, despite their politically powerful family being the focus of public anger.

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