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CICT donates US$ 100,000 to Govt.’s COVID-19 Fund

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The government’s efforts to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka were further strengthened this week with a donation of US$ 100,000 (Rs 18.6 million at current exchange rates) from Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT), the company that manages the South Terminal of the Port of Colombo.

The donation presented to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last week for the COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund was the third cash donation by CICT and its employees towards the battle against the pandemic in 2020 and the fourth donation towards the cause overall.

In May this year, the China Merchants Foundation (CMF), the CSR arm of CICT’s parent company China Merchants Group donated US$ 200,000 (about Rs 37.4 million) to the COVID-19 Healthcare and Social Security Fund, and in October, CICT employees contributed a further Rs 800,000. Additionally, the Company donated more than 1,000 protective suits and 25,000 face masks to Sri Lanka in 2020.

“CICT is not just integral to Sri Lanka’s economy, it is a major cog in the engine of growth and as such must help shoulder the burden of the fight against COVID-19,” CICT CEO Jack Huang said. “We are happy to share this responsibility through keeping our terminal operations going in the midst of many challenges and by contributing funds and equipment to support those at the frontline of the battle. We believe that is what any good corporate citizen should do.”

Huang was accompanied by CICT Chief Financial Officer Raymond Mu at the presentation of the Company’s latest donation to President Rajapaksa.

Besides its generous contributions to the efforts to combat COVID-19, CICT also supported the construction of a two storey community centre that will provide multiple essential services to some 2000 people living in Pannila near Horana with an initial commitment of Rs 18.4 million earlier this year.

Additionally, as part of CICT’s continuing support to the Wheelchair Tennis Programme of the Sri Lanka Tennis Association (SLTA), the Company donated US $35,000 (Rs 6.5 million) and three professional grade, titanium wheelchairs costing US$ 9000 (Rs 1.6 million) in August and June this year. CMF and CICT had together donated Rs 30 million to the SLTA’s Wheelchair Tennis Programme between 2015 and 2019, becoming the main sponsor for wheelchair tennis in the country. This support has enabled Sri Lankan players to participate in many international tournaments, elevating the country to be ranked among the top 40 countries that play wheelchair tennis.

The CICT managed South Terminal of the Port of Colombo is the only deep water terminal in South Asia, which is equipped with facilities to handle the largest vessels afloat. Since its inception in 2014, the terminal has incrementally grown the volume it has handled; from 686,639 teus in 2014, to 1.56 million teus in 2015, 2 million teus in 2016, 2.38 million teus in 2017, 2.67 million teus in 2018, and 2.9 million teus in 2019.

(News Release)

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Covid-19 vaccination programme: MPs not in priority group; President, armed forces chiefs in ‘third category’ 

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday (25) said that members of Parliament were not among those categorised as priority groups expected to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fernandopulle said so in response to The Island query whether parliamentarians would receive the vaccine scheduled to be delivered by India this week. Asked to explain, Dr. Fernandopulle said that health workers, armed forces and law enforcement personnel engaged in Covid-19 prevention operations would be given priority.

“Lawmakers haven’t been listed under priority groups. However, some members may get the vaccine if they are accommodated in the over 60 years category and those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer et al,” the State minister said.

In addition to State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, several lawmakers, representing both the government and the Opposition had been afflicted over the past several weeks. SLPP lawmaker Wasantha Yapa Bandara (Kandy district) is the latest victim. Health minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi was among over half a dozen lawmakers tested positive.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva told Derana yesterday morning Sri Lanka would receive approximately 500,000 to 600,000 doses from India. Responding to a spate of questions from Derana anchor Sanka Amarjith, Gen. Silva explained the measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth vaccination programme. The Army Chief who also functions as the Chief of Defence Staff revealed India had paid for the consignment obtained from the UK.

Later in the day, The Island sought an explanation from the Army Chief regarding the President, Service Commanders, Secretary Defence given the vaccination along with frontline health workers et al, the celebrated battlefield commander said: “Will be in third priority group.”

Asked whether the student population would be accommodated at an early stage of the vaccination programme, Dr. Fernandopulle said that those under 18 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers wouldn’t be included at all as such groups hadn’t been subjected to trials. Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera wasn’t available for comment.

Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized the pivotal importance of following health guidelines strictly in spite of the launch of the vaccination programme. “We shouldn’t lower our guard under any circumstances,” Dr. Fernandopulle said, urging the population to be mindful of those unable to receive the vaccination due to no fault of theirs. As those under 18 years of age had been left out of the vaccination programme, a substantial section of the population would be denied the protection, the State Minister said.

Sri Lanka is also expected to procure vaccines from China and Russia in addition to the doses from India. Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe wasn’t available for comment.

Sri Lanka launches the vaccination programme with the total number of positive cases nearing 60,000 with nearly 50,000 recoveries. The government recently re-opened the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following a pilot programme that brought over 1,200 Ukrainians in dozen flights through the Mattala International Airport.

Dr. Fernandopulle said that the government was ready to launch the vaccination programme as soon as the first consignment arrived from India.

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Tennis balls filled with drugs thrown into Kandakadu Covid-19 treatment centre

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By Norman Palihawadane

Two tennis balls filled with drugs had been thrown into the Covid-19 treatment centre at Kandakadu, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.

The contraband was found on Saturday by the Army officers attached to the facility.

DIG Rohana said the two tennis balls containing cannabis, heroin and tobacco, had been handed over to the Welikanda Police.

A special investigation has been launched into the incident, the Police Spokesperson said. Such incidents had been previously reported from Welikada, Negombo and other prisons, but it was the first time contraband containing narcotics had been thrown into a Covid-19 treatment centre, he added.

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All cargo clearances at Colombo port now through electronic payments

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The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has introduced a system where payment for imports could be made via the Internet. This allows port users to make payments from their homes or offices to clear goods from the Port of Colombo.

The SLPA has said in a media statement that the new special facility will enable port users to make their port payments easily without hassle.

At present, all terminals of the Port of Colombo are run according to a strategic crisis management plan.

 

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