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Delta variant may account for 90% of cases unless action is taken to curb its spread – expert

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Delta variant of coronavirus would increase in the next few weeks and could account for 90% of all cases, Executive Director of the Institute for Health Policy (IHP), Dr Ravi Rannan-Eliya told The Island yesterday. He said that the actual Delta infection rate was probably four to six times higher than reported.

Soon the average transmission rate would be driven by Delta, which was 40%-60% more infectious than the alpha variant, and current measures taken by Sri Lanka were totally inadequate to control it, Dr. Rannan-Eliya said, adding that already, one in 10 samples, sequenced across the country, showed Delta varian infection.

“Whatever the current infection rate is today, it will almost certainly increase in the coming weeks. Most of our cases (90%) are probably still the Alpha variant,” Dr. Eliya said.

Commenting on the recent drop in COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka, Dr. Eliya said that there were several reasons for that. He added that in almost all countries, most infections were never detected. Most people with COVID-19 were either asymptomatic or the infected person did not visit a doctor.

“At most, only 25-50% of infections are ever detected. In the case of India, the data suggest that fewer than 3% of infections were ever detected and reported. In the case of Sri Lanka, we probably did relatively well. If contact tracing was not efficiently done and most contacts were not tested, the number of reported cases could be lower, he said.

“Our test to case ratio (TCR) is now much worse than it was six months ago or even 4-5 months ago. All of this points to the actual infection rate being four to six times higher than reported cases”, he said, adding that the death rate bore evidence. The government was now reporting only deaths counted during the past 48 hours.

“I think the death rate may be closer to 100 a day. The death rate with COVID should be about 0.4–0.8%, and, therefore, if we are having 80 or more deaths a day, then the true infection rate could be around 10,000. Minister Fernandopulle said some time ago that actual infections could be several times the reported cases.”

Dr. Rannan-Eliya said that the countries that had controlled the Delta outbreaks at the community were China and Australia. They conducted aggressive testing. In the case of China, over 50 million tests were done in the province where the outbreak occurred, and as regards NSW in Australia, tests are being conducted at the rate of 50,000 a day. “With our current abysmal rate of testing and with the breakdown of the system of contact tracing and isolation, it is possible that Delta variant will spread faster.”



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MP’s wife, father-in-law among three detained

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Rishad held under PTA to be questioned

16-year-old girl’s death:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Police investigating the death of 16-year-old Ishalini, the domestic servant at All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader Rishad Bathiudeen’s Baudhaloka Mawatha residence have arrested Ayesha Shiabdeen, 46, the wife of the former minister.

Police also took into custody Rishad’s father-in-law Mohammed Shiabdeen, 70, and Ponnaiah Pandaram alias Shankar, 64, a resident of Dayagama.

Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said that Shankar had brought Ilashini from Dayagama to the Baudhaloka Mawatha residence of Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Vanni District lawmaker late last year.

Having studied the post postmortem report, they were taken into custody in terms of Section 360 C and Section 308 B of the Penal Code that dealt with human trafficking and cruelty to children, the top police officer said. According to him, so far 20 statements had been recorded.

Asked whether MP Bathiudeen, too, had been among the questioned, Senior DIG Rohana said the parliamentarian detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) over 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, too, would be interrogated in that regard.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. It switched its allegiance to the SJB ahead of 2020 general election after having represented the cabinet in UNP led yahapalana administration. Rishad has also served President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cabinet during his second term.

Having suffered serious burn injuries on July 3 at the MP’s residence and admitted to the National Hospital, Illashini succumbed to her injuries on July 15th. Medical examination revealed that she had been raped over a period of time.

The police spokesman said that they intended to secure court approval to detain the suspects for 72 hours. A Superintendent of Police could obtain such approval on the strength of a B report submitted to the court in respect of offenses on children.

Although, the police indicated earlier in the day they would be produced in Colombo Magistrate court they weren’t brought in.

Meanwhile, the SJB said that interested parties were making a despicable attempt to politicize the incident. The police should be allowed to conduct the investigation without interference, a spokesman for the main Opposition party said.

 

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Women’s organisations in North conduct protests demanding justice for Ilashini

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A section of those engaged in Jaffna protests

 

By Dinasena Ratugamage

Women’s organisations in the North yesterday held a number of demonstrations in Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Jaffna against the death of J. Ilashini, the 16 -year-old girl who died while working at SJB MP Rishad Bathiudeen’s residence.

The protesters urged authorities to ensure that investigations into the death are conducted in a transparent manner. The family of the victim should be compensated and those guilty punished, they said.

Representatives of the organisations said that if justice was not done, they would hold a massive demonstration in Tarapuram, Mannar, which Bathiudeen represents in Parliament.

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Dancer lodges complaint with police over FB post 

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Police headquarters yesterday (23) said that dancer Anusha Damayanthi had lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over a Facebook post alleging that she was running a brothel.

Police headquarters said that Damayanthi, while denying the accusation, had also brought to the CID’s notice that a minister was being accused of lambasting the Walana anti-crime strike force for carrying out the raid. Police said that an investigation was underway.

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