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Covid second wave because Govt. said it was over – Opposition

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By Imesh Ranasinghe

The Parliamentary Opposition is charging that the general public let down their guard against the Covid-19 pandemic because the government officially stated that the virus has been eliminated in Sri Lanka as more reports of positive patients were announced.

Several more factories were closed, and reports of Covid positive patients were reported from several locations as it appeared that the virus was gaining ground on the island.

Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella took on the Health Minister in Parliament today saying she had said last month that Sri Lanka has successfully eliminated COVID from the community.

Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi had made the statement despite the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) and the Medical Research Institute (MRI) stating that the problem was not over, Kiriella said.

Wanniarachchi told reporters at the time that Sri Lanka can be considered as a country which was able to successfully eliminate COVID-19 from the community.

Kiriella charged that the government, unfortunately, wanted to take political credit until the elections were over that COVID-19 was successfully eliminated which led the people to take the virus lightly.

“The general public trusted what the government said and did not follow proper protective measures,” he added.

Replying Kiriella, Health Minister Wanniarachchi said that she made that statement at that time based on several facts.

She said that generally COVID-19 is determined based on four stages, stage one where there are no cases in the country, stage two where cases appear from here and there in the country and their contacts can be found, stage three where patients are found as clusters and stage four where patients are found all around the country source of the virus cannot be found.

She added at the time she made this statement the Lankapura patient was found and over 25,000 PCR tests where done in the community. (ECONOMYNEXT)

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Majority of 300 luxury vehicles to be released

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… some shipped in without opening LCs, EU wants restrictions abolished

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The majority of the luxury vehicles imported by special permit holders in contravention of the import ban imposed by the government in view of precarious economic situation caused by corona first wave are likely to be released subject to penalties.

Well informed sources said that those vehicles shipped in without even opening LCs would be released. Among the violators were many government servants.

Sources said that vehicles brought in without opening LCs were likely to be confiscated.

“We have categorised over 300 vehicles, including BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Audis into two groups. Customs are now in the process of evaluating individual cases,” a high ranking state official said.

The government announced a ban on vehicle imports to arrest the depletion of foreign reserves. Sources acknowledged that at the time the vehicles

arrived in Sri Lanka the second corona wave hadn’t erupted. The situation was far worse now and further deteriorating, they said, adding that the Customs were being inundated with requests for releasing vehicles on sympathetic grounds.

Controversy surrounds the failure on the part of the government to strictly implement the import ban in view of the sharp drop in state revenue due to the pandemic.

Recently, the EU demanded that Sri Lanka immediately lift import ban or face the consequences. The EU issued the warning in talks with government representatives. Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena explained the circumstances that compelled the government to impose import restrictions. The EU sought an explanation as to when the ban would be lifted. The Foreign Ministry quoted Foreign Minister Gunawardena as having explained to the EU the challenges Sri Lanka economy was facing amidst the dwindling foreign currency reserve situation due to the significant reduction in remittances and tourism revenue induced by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The minister said that the import restrictions were being reviewed.

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Nearly 74,000 persons under home quarantine

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Close to 74,000 people belonging to 27,974 families had been placed under home quarantine, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said on Wednesday (25).

He said that the number of cases from the Minuwangoda and Peliyagoda clusters had increased to 17,436 with 458 persons had tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Two wards of the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital, Panadura were temporarily closed on Wednesday after two pregnant women admitted there tested COVID-19 positive.

The two women are from Atalugama, which has been declared an isolated area. During the last few days close to half of the COVID-19 patients detected in Colombo District are from Atalugama.

The two women have been sent to Neville Fernando Hospital, Malabe. The patients and staff in Wards 3 and 4 at the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital are now under quarantine. Their family members too have been asked to undergone self-quarantine.

The Police had arrested 61 persons who had violated quarantine laws within the 24 hours that ended at 8 am yesterday, Police spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana said, adding that they had been arrested for not wearing masks or for not maintaining physical distancing. With those altogether 688 persons had been arrested for violating quarantine laws from October 30, he said.

Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya said that apart from Welikada, the spread of COVID-19 had been controlled at other prisons. COVID-19 cases had been reported from six prisons, he added.

“We are conducting PCR tests and hope that the situation in Welikada too would be brought under control. Twenty four new cases were detected from prisons on November 24 and from October 04, we have identified 708 cases within the prison system.”

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Severity of impact of second wave on economy could be far worse than anticipated – CBSL

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By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

The impact of the second wave of COVID-19 could be severer on the economic growth than previously anticipated, Director of Economic Research at the Central Bank Dr. Chandranath Amarasekara said yesterday (26).

Dr. Amarasekera said so responding to a query by The Island at a CBSL media briefing. The top official said that an assessment couldn’t be made yet as the second wave was continuing.

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