Colombo, December 14 (Daily Mirror) – The Maldives government, last week sent an official communique to the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry, stepping in to bury COVID-19 victims following serious concerns raised by the Muslim community here over the mandatory cremation only policy in Sri Lanka.
Dr Hemantha Herath, the Deputy Director-General of Public Health Services told Daily Mirror that following the communique received by the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry in turn informed the Health Ministry to develop guidelines and see the practicality of such a request since it had been officially communicated by the Maldives government.
The Foreign Ministry had requested the Health Ministry to develop some guidelines and study the matter so that Sri Lanka could reply soon.
“The Maldives has stepped in to facilitate this process because they are broken up into islands and do not face the same issue as us. The Maldives government has offered to bury the dead bodies in one of their islands. The Health Ministry will prepare its guidelines and hand over to the Foreign Ministry so that they can respond officially,” Dr. Herath said.
“We do not know how practical this is till the feasibility is conducted. The practical options have not been explored yet. Only then we can tell if this is going to happen or not,” he added.
To date, Sri Lanka’s mandatory cremation only policy for all COVID-19 victims has not changed while the Daily Mirror learns that following Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s request last week, a team of health experts were on the hunt for a land in the country where the water levels were low.
However a final decision on such a land is yet to be conveyed to the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, a silent protest got underway in Colombo yesterday where white handkerchiefs and cloth were tied outside the Borella cemetery, protesting the mandatory cremation only policy and remembering those victims who were forcefully cremated.
Social media users were seen sharing the pictures widely on Twitter and Facebook. (Jamila Husain)