No decision on Maldives offer to bury Muslims from Sri Lanka

The Government says no decision has been taken yet on the offer made by the Maldives to bury the bodies of Muslim Covid victims from Sri Lanka.

Cabinet co-spokesman Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana told reporters at the weekly post-cabinet media briefing today that the Government of Sri Lanka had not made an official request from the Maldives in this regard.

Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid had issued a statement on social media recently claiming that a request was made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the possibility of burying Sri Lankan Muslim Covid victims in the Maldives in a bid to resolve the issues pertaining to burials in Sri Lanka.

Minister Ramesh Pathirane said no official communication was made to the Maldives by the Government of Sri Lanka on such a request.

The Minister said the bodies of Muslim Covid victims in Sri Lanka are currently being handled on the advise of the Health Services Director adhering to the health guidelines issued on COVID-19.

Multiple discussions have been held on the matter with the Health Ministry and cabinet of Ministers, while Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has also instructed relevant officials to review the matter in order to find a solution.

Minister Ramesh Pathirane said the Government after such discussions has deemed it well to act based on the health guidelines issued for COVID-19.

However, the Ministry of Health is currently reviewing the matter taking into consideration the current coronavirus situation in Sri Lanka, as well as worldwide.

The cabinet co- spokesman said the Government has requested the Health Ministry to address the issue raised by the Muslim community with a humanitarian approach and fairness.

He further said the Health Ministry will announce its decision on the request to bury Muslim Covid victims in Sri Lanka following the completion of its necessary research and review in the coming days.

When inquired on the risk posed by preserving the bodies of Covid victims until a decision is reached in this regard, Minister Pathirane said health authorities will not preserve the bodies indefinitely.

Until such time, measures have been taken for the bodies to be preserved in air tight containers, which do not pose a risk of the virus being spread at the moment, he explained.

The Minister said as the bodies cannot be preserved for an indefinite period, a decision will have to be taken on the matter as soon as possible. (Colombo Gazette)

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