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Army Chief explains at Investment Forum strategy of battling Covid-19



Army Commander General Shavendra Silva says the ongoing inoculation project which is the main focus of the government is being carried out covering the entire country andcordial diplomatic ties have facilitated efforts to procure vaccines.

General Silva, who is also the Head, National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) says the government intends to shield the entire population by the end of 2021 to early 2022 to enable the restoration of stability.

 “We have effectively managed the first and second wave of the COVID-19, and we are so far in the process of controlling the third wave successfully.”

General Silva was participating at virtual online sessions at the Sri Lanka Investment  Forum (SLIF) yesterday.

Excerpts of General Silva’s speech: “Sri Lanka’s response strategy is based on firstly, breaking the chain of spread; secondly, curbing the spread by separating the infected from uninfected and isolating the exposed and vulnerable population; thirdly, treatment of infected personnel minimizing the loss of lives; fourthly, minimizing citizen suffering from associated loss of earnings, travel restrictions and difficulties to access medical and other necessities; fifthly, achieving the population immunity through vaccination which is the accepted best mean of defence against the virus; and finally, maintaining and progressing the economy and livelihood during and post-pandemic.

 “This strategy is operationalised by distancing rules, encouraging best practices, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine process. Military and National intelligence are extensively utilised for contact tracing supported by the public health authorities for subsequent monitoring and evacuation. Military, assisted by health authorities, spearheads the isolation and quarantine process, where Security Forces build and maintain quarantine facilities and provide security and medical assistance to run the quarantine centres island-wide.

 “In curbing the spread by separating the infected from uninfected and isolating the exposed and vulnerable population, the military assists in establishing and managing the Intermediate Care Centres under the guidelines of the health care authorities. Also, it is important to note that we have never neglected the tourists, foreign nationals and business partners living in Sri Lanka. We have had special consideration for such personnel from the beginning of the Pandemic, and we have taken care of them and assured their wellbeing as Sri Lankan citizens.

 “As of today, healthcare authorities make a tremendous effort to minimise the loss of lives. We have been able to manage all infected cases giving best possible treatments and facilities to save their lives.

 “It has to be understood that COVID-19 is not merely a health issue. Managing the Pandemic is essentially managing the economy and livelihood as well.  Also, the resilience in a Pandemic is essentially the resilience in the economy too. Therefore, the Government has never underestimated the importance of local and international economic activities to run the country’s economy. 

 “Preserving the National Economy has been a decisive factor for Sri Lanka before the Pandemic, during the Pandemic and will be in post-pandemic too. We have given equal emphasis to external and internal aspects of the National Economy. Let me emphasize that despite having imposed travel restrictions to control the spreading of COVID 19, the country was never closed for economic and economic-related activities.

“We have emphasised on safe tourism, giving the guarantee to long-and short-term tourists that Sri Lanka is a safe destination. We are in the process of developing and improving the ‘Bio Secure Bubble’ in tourism, sports, and diplomatic visits. Sri Lanka has proven its competencies in providing a bio secure environment from the port of landing back to the departure. In this aspect, we have readjusted infrastructure, transport, food and beverage and health facilities to provide cutting edge and quality service.

“Also, by now, we are focusing on enhancing Sri Lanka’s potential in facilitating MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) tourism. Considering the situation in and around the world, we expect the relatively safer situation in Sri Lanka will give a boost to this market in time to come.

 “Despite the restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka has been committed to continuing the building of necessary infrastructure and service facilities for industrial and business advancement, which is a significant prerequisite for external and internal economic partnerships. Sri Lanka’s major development projects and infrastructure projects were not delayed due to the Pandemic, and also, the health and safety of the workers have never been compromised.

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Lift restrictions on 21 June, and be prepared for dire consequences – Medical Specialists



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) President Dr. Lakkumar Fernando yesterday urged the government to reconsider its decision to lift the travel restrictions on 21 June on account of the detection of the Indian or Delta variant of COVID-19 in the country.

Speaking to The Island yesterday, Dr. Fernando said: “The Ex-Co and COVID committee of the AMS met on Thursday before it was announced that the Indian variant had been found in the community, and we decided to ask the government to continue the travel restrictions until 28 June.”

The AMS President added that the detection of the Indian variant from Dematagoda was an alarming development as the Indian variant was more transmissible than the UK variant.

“Reopening the country even after this detection is a very bad idea. We detected the UK variant on 08 April 2021 but we allowed people to celebrate the New Year. I feel that the government is repeating the same mistake,” he said.

Dr. Fernando urged the government to have discussions with a broad section of experts in the coming two days and take a more informed decision as we are likely lose more valuable lives if we are not careful enough in our decision making. “I don’t think the government has sought advice from experts,” he said.

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SLPP will not let disputes with Gammanpila undermine govt.



…will vote against SJB’s no-faith motion

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday (18) said that whatever the differences the party had with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila, it would not undermine President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government. A senior SLPP spokesperson said so when The Island sought their response to Samagi Jana Balavegaya planning to move a no-faith motion against attorney-at-law Gammanpila over the recent increase in prices of fuel.

The SJB early this week declared its intention to hand over a no-faith motion against Gammanpila to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena. Already, the JVP and the UNP have questioned the SJB’s exercise.

The SLPP stood solidly with the stand taken by its General Secretary attorney-at-law Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, in respect of Minister Gammanpila, the official said. According to him, SJB’s certain defeat at the forthcoming vote should not be considered an endorsement of the energy minister.

However, the SJB would not be allowed to exploit the dispute between the party and Minister Gammanpila, under any circumstances, party sources said. The SLPP has been in touch with SLPP strategist Basil Rajapaksa, currently in the US, throughout the conflict, sources said.

The SJB’s no-faith motion would be easily defeated, sources said, pointing out that the SLPP group in the government parliamentary group accounted for 115 excluding the Speaker. The SJB parliamentary group comprised 54 members, including seven National List appointees. One of the NL members, Diana Gamage has switched her allegiance to the SLPP.

Sources revealed that on behalf of the SLPP group, the General Secretary of the party, lawmaker Kariyawasam discussed the developments with SLPP leader Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The SLPP group is expected to meet coming Monday (21) to reach consensus on a settlement. Sources said that a no holds barred discussion was with MP Kariyawasam getting an opportunity to explain his stand.

Referring to a statement dated June 12 issued by MP Kariyawasam demanding Minister Gammanpila’s resignation, SLPP underscored the need to set the record straight.

The SLPP General Secretary did not challenge the fuel increase announced by Minister Gammanpila as the party realized the government had no other option, sources said. However, there was no change in the SLPP’s stand in respect of Minister Gammanpila as he did nothing to improve the energy sector coming under his purview, sources said. The SLPP alleged that Minister Gammanpila had done nothing except taking advantage of gullible media.

Responding to another query, sources questioned the rationale in a recent statement issued by eight political parties, affiliated to the SLPP, in support of Minister Gammanpila. Except one political party therein, other parties comprised just one lawmaker each. There were two National List members, too among that eight-member group, sources said, adding that PHU, was represented in parliament by just one MP (Gammanpila.)

Sources said that the SLPP felt that there should be a consensus among the main party and its constituents on major policy decisions. Sources questioned the National Freedom Front (NFF) and the PHU pursuing an agenda inimical to the government. How could they take a different stand on some contentious issues publicly having been members of the cabinet of ministers, sources asked, accusing them of sabotaging key policy decisions.

The SLPP emphasized that the ruling coalition would have to reach a consensus on a common agenda or face catastrophic consequences.

Sources alleged that Weerawansa-Gammanpila led group sabotaged an agreement the incumbent administration worked out with India on the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Harbour.

Asked to explain, sources said that the previous Sirisena-Wickremesinghe had finalized agreements in respect of Mattala airport, ECT, remaining tanks at the Trincomnalee oil tank farm and LNG plant at Sampur with India. Following the last presidential election, the incumbent government decided to go ahead with only the ECT project in the Colombo South Harbour.

The SLPP said that the agreement on ECT was certainly not a popular one though it could have helped efforts to revive the national economy. But, Weerawansa-Gammanpila group as usual played politics with the issue at hand and took credit for stopping the project.

Sources said that the country would have faced eternal blackouts if the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa gave into pressure meant to stop Norochcholai coal-fired power plant.


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1,390 more lockdown violators arrested



The police had arrested 1,390 persons who violated lockdown regulations on Thursday (17), Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said. The bulk of the arrests numbering 172 were made by the Kuliyapitiya Police, 133 by Matale Police and 121 by Kandy Police.

The police have arrested 38,311 people so far for violating quarantine regulations since 30 October 2020.

About 6,797 people were questioned at checkpoints set up at 14 entry and exit points in the Western Province on Thursday and 108 of them were warned and sent back for attempting to cross provincial borders in violation of the current travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Police are planning to carry out a special operation during this weekend to arrest those who violate health regulations by increasing mobile patrols, roadblocks and motorcycle patrols, DIG Rohana added.

Drone operations too will be conducted in Colombo and suburban areas to identify individuals who violate lockdown rules and regulations.



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