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GL: over 500 quarantined AL candidates sat examination

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday (6) paid a glowing tribute to all those who had made it possible for the successful conclusion of the GCE Advanced Level examination under extremely difficult conditions due to the unexpected eruption of corona second wave.

Minister Peiris said that the conducting of the examination was a real challenge as the situation gradually deteriorated with the government compelled to bring the entire Western Province under quarantine curfew.

Western Province comprising administrative districts of Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara was brought under quarantine curfew at midnight on Oct 29.

Responding to The Island queries, Prof. Peiris said that putting off the examination for the second time could have caused major issues. The examination was to be held in August.

The Education Minister said the media coverage during the examination highlighted the fact that the parents of those who sat the examination threw their weight behind the government decision. At one point some interested parties threatened to sabotage the examination over some shortcomings. But, overall everybody supported, the Minister said, adding that all those who contributed to the successful effort could quite rightly be proud of the achievement.

Recalling the difficulties experienced in holding the Year Five Scholarship examination on Oct 11 before the commencement of the Advance Level examination on the following day, Prof. Peiris said on the first day three candidates under quarantine sat the examination. As the epidemic spread, many more were categorized and had to be brought under a special system in place for them to sit the examination, the minister said.

Prof. Peiris said that by the time the examination concluded yesterday, altogether 568 sat the examination while being under quarantine. According to statistics provided by the Media Unit of the Education Ministry, 27 sat for the examination at the Angoda Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH), one at the hospital at the Panagoda Army cantonment and one at the Mulleriyawa hospital. In addition to them, 12 special centres accommodated students from Minuwangoda, Gampaha, Ja-ela, Seeduwa and Ekala. A total of 362,824 sat the examination.

Prof. Peiris said that government servants went out of their way to make it possible. “We arranged special transport with the support of the SLTB and the Railways Department whereas the staff played a crucial role,” the minister said.

Prof. Peiris said that they faced the daunting task of preventing an outbreak in any of the 2,648 examination centers. “We were concerned about the countrywide situation though curfews were declared in the Western Province and several other police areas in the provinces,” the minister said.

On the last day of the examination nearly 35,000 candidates sat the final paper.

 

 

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Covid-19 vaccination programme: MPs not in priority group; President, armed forces chiefs in ‘third category’ 

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday (25) said that members of Parliament were not among those categorised as priority groups expected to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fernandopulle said so in response to The Island query whether parliamentarians would receive the vaccine scheduled to be delivered by India this week. Asked to explain, Dr. Fernandopulle said that health workers, armed forces and law enforcement personnel engaged in Covid-19 prevention operations would be given priority.

“Lawmakers haven’t been listed under priority groups. However, some members may get the vaccine if they are accommodated in the over 60 years category and those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer et al,” the State minister said.

In addition to State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, several lawmakers, representing both the government and the Opposition had been afflicted over the past several weeks. SLPP lawmaker Wasantha Yapa Bandara (Kandy district) is the latest victim. Health minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi was among over half a dozen lawmakers tested positive.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva told Derana yesterday morning Sri Lanka would receive approximately 500,000 to 600,000 doses from India. Responding to a spate of questions from Derana anchor Sanka Amarjith, Gen. Silva explained the measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth vaccination programme. The Army Chief who also functions as the Chief of Defence Staff revealed India had paid for the consignment obtained from the UK.

Later in the day, The Island sought an explanation from the Army Chief regarding the President, Service Commanders, Secretary Defence given the vaccination along with frontline health workers et al, the celebrated battlefield commander said: “Will be in third priority group.”

Asked whether the student population would be accommodated at an early stage of the vaccination programme, Dr. Fernandopulle said that those under 18 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers wouldn’t be included at all as such groups hadn’t been subjected to trials. Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera wasn’t available for comment.

Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized the pivotal importance of following health guidelines strictly in spite of the launch of the vaccination programme. “We shouldn’t lower our guard under any circumstances,” Dr. Fernandopulle said, urging the population to be mindful of those unable to receive the vaccination due to no fault of theirs. As those under 18 years of age had been left out of the vaccination programme, a substantial section of the population would be denied the protection, the State Minister said.

Sri Lanka is also expected to procure vaccines from China and Russia in addition to the doses from India. Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe wasn’t available for comment.

Sri Lanka launches the vaccination programme with the total number of positive cases nearing 60,000 with nearly 50,000 recoveries. The government recently re-opened the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following a pilot programme that brought over 1,200 Ukrainians in dozen flights through the Mattala International Airport.

Dr. Fernandopulle said that the government was ready to launch the vaccination programme as soon as the first consignment arrived from India.

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Tennis balls filled with drugs thrown into Kandakadu Covid-19 treatment centre

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By Norman Palihawadane

Two tennis balls filled with drugs had been thrown into the Covid-19 treatment centre at Kandakadu, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.

The contraband was found on Saturday by the Army officers attached to the facility.

DIG Rohana said the two tennis balls containing cannabis, heroin and tobacco, had been handed over to the Welikanda Police.

A special investigation has been launched into the incident, the Police Spokesperson said. Such incidents had been previously reported from Welikada, Negombo and other prisons, but it was the first time contraband containing narcotics had been thrown into a Covid-19 treatment centre, he added.

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All cargo clearances at Colombo port now through electronic payments

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The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has introduced a system where payment for imports could be made via the Internet. This allows port users to make payments from their homes or offices to clear goods from the Port of Colombo.

The SLPA has said in a media statement that the new special facility will enable port users to make their port payments easily without hassle.

At present, all terminals of the Port of Colombo are run according to a strategic crisis management plan.

 

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