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Don’t be overconfident after receiving jab, SLMA tells public



The public must not think vaccination ensures their safety one hundred percent, Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) President, Dr Padma Gunaratne says.

Dr. Gunaratne said so addressing the media on Tuesday. She said the National Hospital, Colombo, treated about 200 new cases a day and about 100 of those needed oxygen support, and the current situation was similar to that before the imposition of travel restrictions.

Dr. Gunaratne said that the silver lining was the rapid pace of the vaccination drive. Sri Lanka was getting the best vaccines used in the world and the vaccination was done at a very rapid pace. However, Sri Lankans should not fully depend on the vaccine alone and should not think that they could lead normal lives after inoculation.

On the flipside, Sri Lanka was now dealing with the Delta variant, which was more contagious, the SLMA President said.

“30% of the cases detected in Colombo have delta, which is highly contagious and soon this percentage could rise to 50. Soon Delta will become the most dominant variant in the country. The question is how long will this take? Prof. Neelika Malawige’s lab doesn’t have the capacity to conduct countrywise studies. They can sequence 200 samples a month in selected areas. So, we can’t say how many Delta cases are there in SL but when we look at the world we know how fast Delta spreads,” Dr. Gunaratne said.

“Some people think that the country will be safe within eight weeks because of the pace of the vaccination. This too is a myth, she said. The vaccines will give some protection, and is our long term solution”, Dr. Gunaratne said.

For full protection of a vaccine, one needed to take both jabs and in Sri Lanka only 8% of people had got both jabs. Therefore most were not secure. 25% of people had got at least one jab but it was not enough, she said.

“One needs to get a second jab and then it will take two more weeks for antibodies to form. However even if we get both jabs, we can get the disease and then spread. There will always be new variants as well. However, we are very pleased with government fast tracking vaccination,” she said.

Given that the fourth wave would be dominated by the Delta variant elderly and people with chronic diseases should be especially vigilant, Dr. Gunaratne said. All elderly persons and those with chronic diseases should get vaccinated.

“However, even if they get both jabs they are still in high risk categories. We urge them to be safe. Don’t get caught in the fourth wave,” she warned.

Dr. Gunaratne said that the number of actual daily cases should be around 10,000 because on an average 50 people were dying. Sri Lanka needed to focus on selected restrictions, vaccination and implementing health guidelines to ensure lives were protected while the economy was kept humming.

“People are against heavy restrictions, they want to work. But when we open up and try to hit a balance, numbers will go up. We have to tell people this. The people must know the government has opened up sectors not because there is 100% safety but because the government knows the importance of livelihood. People should know that weddings, religious places, cinemas can lead to clusters. They must be careful when they are in crowds,” Dr. Gunaratne said.

Given that the number of cases will rise, the government must strengthen the initiatives to treat asymptotic cases at home. If asymptomatic cases can be treated at home, there will be enough room for moderate and serious cases in hospitals. Also, the COVID-19 cases with chronic diseases must be hospitalised, she said.

“Some people tell us that most developed countries are opening up and ask us why we aren’t opening up. They say that Singapore is open. We are not like Singapore that can do as many PCR tests as they want, they can trace contacts easily and fast through apps and they have other ways of managing the virus. We don’t have that here. So we have to be more careful,” Dr. Gunaratne said.

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



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



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 



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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