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Government imported Rapid Antigen test kits on epidemiologists’ recommendation – State Minister

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by Imesh Ranasinghe

The government chose to use an emergency tender process to import the Rapid Antigen test kits to Sri Lanka to cover the need of 1.25 million test kits required for the next three months on the recommendation of the Epidemiology Unit, the State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals told Parliament on Friday.

State Minister Prof Channa Jayasumana said the Epidemiology Unit has asked the Director-General of Medical Supplies Division on with the current level of Covid 19 reporting in Sri Lanka the estimated quantity will be 250,000 tests per month.

“In this context, the requirement for next three months along with the two months buffer stocks would be 1.25 million tests, this forecasting is based on the current state of the disease in the country in case of a change in the disease pattern that needs to reverse the estimate will be informed in due course,” Epidemiology unit said.

“When the WHO has pre-validated and pre-qualified these test kits to the whole world this is the first country in which the opposition has challenged that,” he said.

Jayasumana said that the recommendation to use these test kits by the state sector was given by the Epidemiology Unit on October 27.

Based on the recommendation he said, the Secretary to the Ministry of Health in various occasions held discussion with the WHO and came to an agreement to get some test kits, but WHO has informed that it will take two weeks to send those test kits.

“So the Health Secretary through the WHO office in India was able to get 200,000 rapid antigen test kits and through the Asian Development Bank, we were able to get another 300,000 test kits, So in order to get the remaining amount a tender process was started through the private sector,” Jayasumana said.

He added that Medical Supplies Division informed State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) to call for emergency tenders for emergency buying as the normal tender process would take weeks.

Moreover, he said that tender was not carried our secretly as the members of the Medicine and Medical Suppliers Association was informed about the tender while the SPC in its official website has published about the tender.

He added that SPC has not done any mistake In the tender process but as the opposition is challenging the decision of the WHO it will only make the process late.

(ECONOMYNEXT)



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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