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

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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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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused

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By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.

 

 

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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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