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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.


SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court



The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

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Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April



Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

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IGP tells CID not to brook any interference from any quarter while they probe ’Harak Kata’ and ‘Kudu Salindu’



By Norman Palihawadane

IGP CD Wickramaratne has directed the CID to maintain a special log of names and details of any attempts by external parties to influene the ongoing investigations on notorious drug traffickers Nandun Chinthaka Wickramaratne aka Harak Kata and Salindu Malshika aka Kudu Salindu.

The suspects are currently under the custody of the CID.

The IGP issued the orders to the DIG CID and its director during a meeting of senior police officers on Monday, police headquarters said.

Sources said that the IGP has further instructed not to allow statements from the detainees to be taken by any police team other than the team currently investigating the suspects.

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