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Coronavirus spread slows down but lowering the guard could lead to a resurgence

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by SURESH PERERA

The transmission of the coronavirus within the community has witnessed a marginal drop largely due to the quarantine curfew enforced, health officials said, while warning that failure to adhere to preventive guidelines when travel restrictions are relaxed could see a resurgence of the pandemic.

The spread of the virus has slowed down in terms of numbers testing positive, Dr. Jayaruwan Bandara, Deputy Director of the Medical Research Institute (MRI) acknowledged, but cautioned that the drop didn’t mean the worst was now over.

Covid-19 positive cases topped 400 following the eruption of the Peliyagoda fish market cluster. However, by Thursday (November 5) patients testing positive for the deadly virus dipped to 383.

The Epidemiology Unit said the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Sri Lanka stood at 12,570, with 6,623 recoveries and 5,748 patients still under medical care as at November 5. The coronavirus death count has climbed to 29 with five more deaths reported.

Most of the patients testing positive are close contacts of the Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the overall pandemic situation has improved with less positive cases reported, Dr. Bandara said that statistics reflect a slow down, but a lot more needs to be done in terms of effectively tackling the threat.

“Without public cooperation, we will be back to square one”, he stressed.

Meanwhile, head of Sri Lanka Association of Government Medical Laboratory Technologists, Ravi Kumadesh, charged that under a new mechanism adopted by the Health Ministry, PCR tests are now being done only as a “last resort”.

The number of PCR tests have been drastically reduced, he claimed, while adding that even positive cases are not immediately admitted to hospital. They are instead placed under quarantine in centres.

The whole truth about the fresh outbreak of Covid-19 in Sri Lanka has been swept under the carpet, Kumadesh alleged. “They are blaming the people for not adhering to preventive guidelines, but not telling them the factual ground situation”.



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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