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GMOA demands third shot for health personnel; AstraZeneca producer questions the need

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) on Thursday (29) told the Director General of Health Services, Dr. Asela Gunawardena, that all healthcare staff and other frontline workers needed a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

In a lettter to Dr. Gunawardena, Secretary of the GMOA, Dr. Senal Fernando has said several of the GMOA branch unions have informed them that there is an increase of COVID positive patients duirng the last few weeks.

“To make matters worse, significant numbers of health staff, including doctors, have tested COVID positive during the last few days. Most of them are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. When analysing the global trend, we observe that, certain countries have arrived at policy decisions to give a third dose to frontline health workers to protect them against the new COVID variants.”

The GMOA Executive Committee has requested Dr. Gunawardena to refer their request to relevant technical committees, at national level, and explore the possibility of arranging for the third dose to be administered to all categories of health staff and other frontline workers, who are at high risk of contracting the disease.

On 29 July, the CEO of AstraZeneca manufacturer, Pascal Soriot, said they were not yet sure whether a third dose of its Covid-19 vaccine would be necessary for continued protection against the virus.

“There are two dimensions to this immunity — antibodies [which] decline over time, but the second, very important dimension of vaccination is the so-called T-cells. They tend to protect people against severe disease, but they also provide durability,” Soriot told CNBC.

“With the technology we use, we have very high production of T-cells. We’re hoping we can have a durable vaccine that protects for a long period of time. So whether we will need a third booster or not is not clear yet, only time will tell,” he added.



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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