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Australia issues bridging visas to Lankan family

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A Sri Lankan Tamil family that had spent years in offshore detention has been issued bridging visas that will allow them to work and study on the Australian mainland, ABC news reported yesterday.

Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced he had issued the Murugappan family with three-month bridging visas.

The decision comes after the Murugappan family was recently moved into community detention in Perth, where youngest child Tharnicaa has been receiving medical treatment.

“This decision allows three members of the family to reside in the Perth community on bridging visas while the youngest child’s medical care, and the family’s legal matters, are ongoing,” he said in a statement.

“The fourth family member’s visa status is unchanged.

“The family will continue to have access to health care, support services, housing and schooling in the Perth community.”

The Murugappans had settled in the Queensland town of Biloela but were removed in 2018 after a court found they were not owed protection.

Wednesday’s decision by the minister allows the two parents to work and study in Perth.

The Murugappan family has spent years fighting deportation to Sri Lanka, after they were found not to be owed protection in Australia.

Supporters have been urging the federal government to allow the family to return to the Queensland town of Biloela, where they had been living before being placed in immigration detention in 2018.

Four-year-old Tharnicaa was recently released from hospital after being medically evacuated from Christmas Island to Perth with a blood infection.

Family friend Angela Fredericks questioned why Tharnicaa had not been granted a bridging visa like the other members of her family, saying it meant the family could not leave Perth.

“While we welcome Priya, Nades, and Kopika being granted bridging visas, we wonder what precisely is the minister’s objective in denying little Tharni one,” she said in a statement released by Change.org.

“This family must stay together, and they need to be back in Biloela as soon as humanly possible.”

The visas do not guarantee the family will be allowed to stay in the country long term.

Shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Keneally said she hoped the decision was the “next step” towards allowing the family to return permanently to Biloela.

“Australians will welcome the news today that the minister is personally intervening in the Biloela family’s case and using his ministerial discretion to grant bridging visas to Nades, Priya and Kopika,” she said.

“It’s welcome that the family is not under those strict detention conditions. Nonetheless, they are not able to travel to Biloela, whilst the minister is maintaining that Tharni must stay in Perth.”



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Washington will continue to support Lanka’s fight against Covid-19

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US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz explaining a point to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Aebywardena during their meeting yesterday.

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz yesterday said that the US would continue to support Sri Lanka’s fight against Covid-19 through the COVAX facility.

She made the pledge during a courtesy call on Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday, Parliament sources said.

Marcus Carpenter, Deputy Chief of political division and Kushani Rohanadeera, Deputy Secretary-General of Parliament and Chief of Staff were also present at the meeting which was held at the Speaker’s Office in Parliament.

A number of issues of mutual interest were discussed between Sri Lanka and the US, including diplomatic and economic matters. Furthermore, the future intended investments of the United States in Sri Lanka for the future of the energy sector were also discussed, sources said.

The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka expressed how pleased she was over the steps taken to establish a Special Committee for the purpose of reforming the current electoral system in Sri Lanka and the steps taken by Parliament to re-establish the Sectoral Oversight Committees of Parliament.

The Ambassador also informed the Speaker that the US continues to support the development of Sri Lanka and protect democracy in the face of COVID faced by the whole world.

 

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Institute of Chemistry organises webinar on ‘Genes, Immunity and COVID-19 Vaccines’

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Arrangements have been made by the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon to conduct a webinar on “Genes, Immunity and COVID-19 Vaccines” with the intention of disseminating awareness on the widely spread COVID-19 and the importance of vaccination.

The webinar will be held via zoom from 8.30 am to 12.00 noon on Sept 4, a press release issued by the Institute said yesterday.

It said: The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak that originated in the city of Wuhan, China, has claimed countless lives within a span of two years causing significant damage to the world’s population and the global economy. Within the passage of a year, the emergence of changing COVID-19 variants with higher transmissibility, increased fatality was discovered around the globe. Currently, Sri Lanka is fighting the third wave of coronavirus and there has been an increase in the number of cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus across the country.

With the current situation, the need and importance of vaccination has become a vital tool in the battle against coronavirus. Vaccines save millions of lives each year and the development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a huge step taken forward in the effort to end the pandemic. Misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines provided by different information channels have led to hesitations in accepting the COVID-19 vaccine among the population. This seminar will provide information on COVID-19 vaccines currently available and will be an immense help to clear any doubt with regards to COVID-19 vaccines.

The programme hopes to cover topics such as “Genomics of COVID-19” by Dr. Sameera. R. Samarakoon. “COVID-19 and Nutrition” by Prof. Ranil Jayawardena, “Immune response in COVID- 19: friend or foe” by Dr. Narmada Fernando, “COVID-19 Vaccine: What is Best” by Prof. Chandima Jeewandra and “Concluding Remarks and a Q&A session” by Prof. Nimal Punyasiri. The seminar will be moderated by Prof. Chayanika Padumadasa.

You can register to this webinar by visiting the IchemC website (ichemc.edu.lk) while more information can be obtained by contacting the Institute at 011-2861231. Also you may obtain information by sending an email to covidseminar21@gmail.com

For more details, please contact Ms. Nishadi (077 730 6270) / Ms. Shanali (076 553 2142)

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COVID Shield app introduced to Sri Lanka to fight against COVID-19 pandemic

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Health Informatics Society of Sri Lanka (HISSL) and the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health (CWCDH) have introduced the COVID Shield app to Sri Lanka to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID Shield App allows users to assess their lung health on a regular basis to identify deteriorations associated with COVID-19 early.

The app uses the in-built sound recording features of a smartphone to analyze the breathing sounds and gather additional data when the user performs several simple tests to determine breathing performance.

The app tracks lung health along with other symptoms to support identifying COVID-19 related deterioration early.

In addition to identifying the state of lung health, COVID Shield is also capable of providing the users with alerts based on overall assessment of his or her symptoms. Based on these alerts, the users can take the next step without delaying seeking medical advice. The users will also receive COVID-19 related health education and latest statistics from reliable sources on his or her dashboard.

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