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Dr. Jasinghe accommodated in Covid-19 consultative process as infections spike

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Amidst an overwhelmed health system

by SURESH PERERA

In the backdrop of the alarming spike in the dreaded Covid-19 contagion across the country, the move by the government to bring back to the fold Consultant Surgeon, Dr. Anil Jasinghe, was termed a “step in the right direction” by medical officials, as an overwhelmed health system struggles to tackle the raging pandemic.

Even at this late stage, it was a wise decision to seek the expertise of Dr. Jasinghe, widely credited for spearheading the thrust to control the transmission of the life-threatening virus when it first erupted in Sri Lanka in March this year, health officials said.

The move to accommodate the senior medical administrator in the government’s coronavirus preventive process was announced by Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi in Parliament on Wednesday.

The exit of Dr. Jasinghe as Director-General of Health Services (DGHS), ostensibly on a “promotion” as Secretary to the Environment Ministry, drew heavy flak, with questions being raised over the irrelevancy of his medical knowledge and expertise in an alien institution, particularly at a time the country was facing the worst health emergency in its history.

With the outbreak of the Covid-19 cluster in Minuwangoda, it was simple logic that the virus – described as a new virulent strain with a bigger viral load – could spread to the Peliyagoda fish market situated within the same (Gampaha) district, health officials said.

With hundreds of consumers, wholesalers and retailers from Colombo and its suburbs thronging the complex, in addition to scores of lorries transporting loads of fish from many parts of the country calling over there on a daily basis, the Peliyagoda fish market was a virtual ticking time bomb waiting to explode, they asserted.

 

It was a sitting duck, they opined, but those in the health sector could not foresee the potential threat and warn the government that the highly contagious virus could have literally “come walking to the crowded Peliyagoda fish market” resulting in a country-wide spread with disastrous consequences.

“The country is now paying a heavy price for lack of foresight or rather common sense to adopt basic precautionary measures in a bid to avert a full-blown crisis leading to a devastating fallout”, they remarked.

Right people in the right places is the answer to serious efforts to stem the potent Covid-19 tide, the officials suggested, adding that tail-waggers should be kept at bay at least until the country overcomes the critical threat, which has disrupted lives and ruined the national economy.

Welcoming Dr. Jasinghe’s return to the Covid-19 control mechanism, they said the folly of edging out medical experts with proven track records has left the country tottering under the grave threat of a pandemic which has swept across many districts in the country.

The Gampaha district, where the second wave of the virus erupted with the Minuwangoda cluster, saw a relative dip in the number of infections over the past week, but the discovery of 111 asymptomatic patients on Wednesday has caused fresh concern over a possible resurgence, medical sources said.

Meanwhile, Mayor Rosy Senanayake called for more PCR testing of people living in areas still under lockdown within Colombo municipal limits.

There’s no purpose in keeping these people confined if there are no tests done as the whole idea is to ensure they are not carriers of the virus, she told The Sunday Island.

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COPE meets online for first time in its history

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by Saman Indrajith

The Parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) created a history by meeting online for the first time ever on Thursday.

The COPE had Secretaries of three Ministries joining in with its committee meeting through online (ZOOM) becoming the second parliamentary committee holding an online meeting in the country.

Thursday evening’s COPE meeting chaired by its chairman Prof. Charitha Herath connected online with Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Dr) H. S. Munasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Industries W. A. Chulananda Perera and, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government J. J. Ratnasiri via zoom technology.

The Environmental Audit Report on water pollution of the Kelani River was brought before the committee and the meeting held between the Chairman Prof. Herath, Ministers and Members of Parliament and secretaries and other officials continued without any technical hitches.

Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said that facilities have been provided to hold meetings and discussions using online technology in two committee rooms in Parliament.

He said that Parliamentary officials had been working relentlessly for months to install the requisite technological tools and that the efforts have borne fruit and future Parliamentary meetings could be held online as a result.

The Committee on High Posts under the chairmanship of Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena also held a discussion with the new Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Kenya, who was living in Kampala, using online technology recently.

 

 

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Legatum Prosperity Index highlights SL’s development of education and healthcare sectors

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During the past decade

One of the key highlights of this year’s Legatum Prosperity Index was the improvement in Sri Lanka’s education and healthcare sectors over the past decade. These improvements were key to increase in prosperity within Sri Lanka, it was noted.

The London-based think-tank Legatum Institute launched the 14th Legatum Prosperity Index on November 17 2020.

The event commenced with the welcome address by the Chair of the Legatum Institute, Alan McCormick. 

Addressing the audience, the Chief Executive Officer of the Legatum Institute, The Baroness Stroud said that according to the Legatum Index, the global prosperity was at its highest level ever with 147 countries seeing their prosperity rise over the last decade.

Speaking at the launch, the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in the UK, Saroja Sirisena said that the end of the terrorist conflict in 2009 and the ensuing peace dividend, led Sri Lanka to achieve steady progress within the last decade.

She highlighted that the universal free education and healthcare policies of the country over seven decades are the pillars on which prosperity is built.

Director of Policy of the Legatum Institute, Dr. Stephen Brien explained to the audience as to how the Legatum Index is used to measure prosperity across the world.

The event was also addressed by the Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in Africa, Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Biologist and Writer, Matt Ridley and Ambassador of Georgia in the UK Sophie Katsarava.

Legatum Prosperity Index is a global index that analyses the performance of 167 nations across 65 policy-focused elements, measured by almost 300 country level indicators and it is the only global index that measures national prosperity based on institutional, economic and social wellbeing.

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Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India with Sapna Mehra

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The Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre (SVCC), High Commission of India, Colombo, will be holding an online cookery demonstration on ‘Snack Time: Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India’ on December 5 at 11.00 am on its FACEBOOK page https://www.facebook.com/ICCRSriLanka.

This festival season, the Cultural Centre will present a virtual cookery demonstration by Sapna Mehra. Cooking has been a passionate hobby of Sapna since her childhood days. Growing up in a large family of 17 members, she was very keen on bringing variety to the dining table, and that’s when her cooking journey began, preparing simple wraps, and snacks.

She now specializes in cooking dishes from a variety of cuisines. Originally from Bangalore, she has lived in many cities across India and Sri Lanka, and at present resides in Delhi.

She has a Postgraduate degree in Marketing and has over 12 years work experience in the professional field.

All are cordially invited to attend. For more details, contact the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre on telephone No: 2684698 or Email: iccrcolombo2@gmail.com

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