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Action taken to control pandemic spread unsatisfactory – expert

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Sri Lanka had lost control of COVID-19 as the government had not taken steps to reduce the spread of the virus among the people, Executive Director of the Institute for Health Policy (IHP), Dr. Ravi Rannan-Eliya told The Island yesterday.

“We are not doing what we need to do to slow or reduce transmission, and what we need to do remains unchanged with Delta or any other worse variant. The government must increase measures to curb the transmission,” he said.

Commenting on the announcement made by State Minister Channa Jayasumana that three new mutations of COVID-19 have been detected in Sri Lanka, Dr. Eliya said that mutations to the virus happened all the time.

“Almost daily, so it is unclear from press reports what exactly they are saying. The implication is that these are sets of mutations that are more substantial or significant than the usual ones, or mutation sets associated with other variants of concern in other countries. Without knowing more, it is hard to assess,” he said.

Dr. Eliya noted that it would be very difficult to assess whether a new variant is more infectious using Sri Lankan data because it was highly unlikely that the country had the kind of data or surveillance to do that well, or to assess relative vaccine efficacy.

“It is unfortunate that the government is not taking action to slow transmission. The actions of businesses and people to do what the government is not doing is to be applauded, but cannot fully compensate for government inaction,” he said, commenting on the decision taken by about 30 traders’ associations across the country to close their shops voluntarily.



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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