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Association of Medical Specialists calls for district level lockdowns

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The Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) has urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to impose ‘lockdowns’ at district level with immediate effect to bring the raging Covid-19 pandemic under control.

The AMS has also sought an urgent meeting with President Rajapaksa to explain ways and means of meeting the health challenge. The AMS has stressed the need to revisit what the professional body calls Covid-19 management strategy without further delay.

The AMS has questioned the rationale behind claims that vaccination is a panacea.

The following is the text of a letter titled, ‘Battle against Covid-19: Are we at a tipping point” written jointly by Dr Lakkumar Fernando and Dr. R. Gnanasekeram, President and General Secretary of the AMS, respectively: “As medical specialists serving in the frontline of the fight against Covid-19, we strongly believe that Sri Lanka is at a critical stage. Number of new cases keep rising continuously. During last week, the daily number of ‘declared’ new infections have consistently been over 1,800, and went above 2,500 during the last 24 hours. The number of Covid-related deaths too have been increasing steadily, with daily counts of approximately 20, even after a questionable exclusion of those with co-morbidities. We should appreciate at least three times the reported number of new cases do exist in the community.

“We also know that healthcare resources are fast reaching its threshold. Health sector beds and available facilities are almost saturated. Requirement for oxygen is increasing exponentially as we have started seeing more symptomatic patients. ICU beds are almost fully occupied. Healthcare professionals are exhausted and apprehensive with many getting infected with Covid-19 themselves.

“Preliminary predictive disease modelling done by WHO, Geneva, recently with the assumption that current disease trend will continue without any public health interventions, Sri Lanka would most likely be reporting 10,000 cases daily within the next three weeks. If that happens, we can expect the number of deaths to exceed 100 per day. If the country reaches this ‘tipping point’ with the disease spiraling out of control, it would be extremely difficult to recover from that point.

“Some are of the opinion that vaccination is the panacea to all our problems. There are two challenges to that narrative. One is the problems associated with quick access to safe and effective vaccines to cover at least 65-70% of the population with two doses. The time taken for vaccines to provide protection has been widely accepted to be at least three weeks weeks after the second dose. Pending protection from the vaccines which is the key pillar supporting the fight against Covid-19, public health interventions to restrict people’s movements should be the most important tool to avert a disastrous outcome during this critical period.

“Therefore, we urge Your Excellency to impose effective lockdowns at least at district level to restrict people’s movement with immediate effect. The current practice of isolating communities at GN division level is neither preserving economic activity nor controlling transmission of the disease. Whilst assuring the President of our unstinted support to overcome the present challenges and save Sri Lanka from an unprecedented public health catastrophe, we hope the recommendations made by us will be implemented urgently. We also believe that the time has come to revisit Sri Lanka’s management strategy of Covid-19 before it rages out of control.

 “We hope and pray that Your Excellency would consider our request and suggestions in the right spirit and in a constructive manner.

We are aware that your Excellency has an extremely busy schedule at present due to a variety of reasons. However, we would be very grateful if you could give us an opportunity to meet you with a group of relevant professionals to explain further why we think some drastic measures are immediately needed.”

 

 



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Keheliya, seven others further remanded till 28th June

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The Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court today [14] ordered that former Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella and seven others be further remanded until June 28 by over the import of substandard human Immunoglobulin vials.

 

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President launches Public Learning and Education Platform for Sri Lankan Youth

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe officially launched www.publiclearn.lk a new education platform aimed at transforming Sri Lanka’s learning landscape at the Chamber Hall of the Presidential Secretariat, on Thursday [13]

Public Learn is a platform that guides users to free courses from the world’s top universities. .

Emphasizing the importance of adapting to a knowledge-intensive society, the President highlighted Sri Lanka’s strong educational results despite various systemic flaws. He noted that the new platform would enhance the education system’s effectiveness and stressed that Sri Lanka must swiftly advance in digitization to drive the new economic transformation.

President Wickremesinghe highlighted that the Public Learn platform serves as a crucial tool for enabling many Sri Lankans to advance personally and transform their nation. He reflected on Sri Lanka’s historical learning journey in three phases: first, during the era of Arahath Mahinda and the Pirivena system; second, with the introduction of the British public school system; and now, with the advent of digital education platforms like Public Learn, marking the third phase. He emphasized the importance of leveraging digital technology and knowledge to propel Sri Lanka forward in the digital economy, underscoring the need for continuous adaptation and innovation.

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Easter Sunday carnage: ‘Another probe nothing but an exercise in futility’

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Rev. Father Cyril Gamini

‘Implement PCoI recommendations at least now’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Catholic Church yesterday (14) reiterated its longstanding demand that the recommendations made by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) into 2019 Easter Sunday attacks be implemented.

Rev. Father Cyril Gamini Fernando said so when The Island sought the Catholic Church’s reaction to the appointment by President Ranil Wickremesinghe a new committee of inquiry to investigate the actions and responses of the country’s intelligence and security authorities following the intelligence warning received from India.

The committee is headed by retired Judge Ms. A. N. J. de Alwis. Rev. Fernando said that the government should implement the recommendations made by the PCoI headed by Supreme Court judge Janak de Silva. He said another inquiry would be nothing but an exercise in futility as the PCoI conducted an in-depth investigation into the Easter attacks, including the failure on the part of the intelligence apparatus to act on foreign intelligence as well neutralise the growing threat posed by extremist elements.

Rev. Fr. Fernando questioned the rationale behind re-examining the conduct of State Intelligence Service (SIS) and Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) as the Supreme Court in January last year ordered Senior DIG Nilantha Jayewardena and retired DIG Sisira Mendis, who headed the SIS and functioned as CNI, respectively, to pay compensation to the tune of Rs 75 mn and Rs 10 mn.

“What is there to investigate again?” Rev Fernando asked, urging the government to go through the PCoI recommendations in respect of politicians and security officials.

In addition to the PCoI report, the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee and a Special Investigation Committee of three members appointed by the then President Maithriapla Sirisena probed the Easter carnage, Rev Fernando said, adding that if those in parliament were still interested in justice and fair play should look into that matter.

Rev. Fernando urged the government to examine how successive leaders had responded to PCoI findings. When President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed a committee consisting of six MPs to look into the PCoI report and its findings soon after justice Janak de Silva handed over his report on Feb 1, 2021 it became clear that the powers that be would resort to old tactics. Nearly two years after President Rajapaksa’s ouster, the situation remained the same, Rev. Fernando said, adding that the Church wouldn’t give up its fight for justice.

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