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Covid-19 situation improves with significant decline in positive cases



But no room for complacency says State Minister

By Suresh Perera

The overall Covid-19 situation in Sri Lanka has improved with the number of positive cases reported from across the country witnessing a decline over the past two weeks.

“We have observed a significant drop in numbers testing positive for the virus, which is a welcome development, but certainly not a reason for complacency”, says Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and Covid Disease Control.

Overall, positive cases based on PCR screening have dipped to 3% from the earlier 6%, she said. “We have also been able to reduce PCR testing as a result”.

Positive Covid-19 cases, which spiked to almost one thousand per day earlier, have dipped to below 400 over the past fortnight.

Asked whether the ongoing inoculation drive had played a role in keeping the numbers down, the State Minister said the vaccination campaign, which began on January 29, had helped in tackling the pandemic situation as it takes three weeks to form antibodies.

Even though Covid-19 numbers have tumbled, the public should continue to adhere to health safety guidelines and avoid crowded places in particular, Dr. Fernandopulle cautioned.

It should be borne in mind that a sudden surge could always happen as seen now in the United States, Italy and India, she warned. “In Sri Lanka also, we had to face the repercussions of relaxing restrictions during Christmas in 2020 and the New Year”.

On whether there’s a move to restrict inter-provincial travel during the forthcoming Sinhala and Tamil New Year, the State Minister there was still no such formal decision.

There is no issue in people observing traditional customs and celebrating the New Year as long as health safety measures are followed, Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized. “If there’s complacency, we will have to pay the price for it”.

Meanwhile, health officials said that more than 800,000 people in the Colombo and Gampaha districts have already been administered the Covid jab.

The inoculation drive was launched in Sri Lanka with the donation of 500,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’



By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners



By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered



A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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