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Highly contagious delta (B.1.617.2) COVID-19 strain detected in Colombo



Health authorities have detected the highly transmissible B.1.617.2 (Delta or Indian variant) of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in five samples collected from Colombo, an official said.

Dr Chandima Jeewandara of the University of Sri Jayawardenapura said the strain was detected in samples collected from Aramaya Place in Dematagoda.

Jeewndara is Director of the Allergy Immunology and Cell Biology Unit of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine, University of Sri Jayewardenepura. His department does genome sequencing of samples to test for variants of SARS-CoV-2.

“An usual outbreak was detected in the Aramaya place, Colombo 9 (samples which were not giving the S drop, which is characteristically seen with the alpha variant with the Taqpath qRT-PCR), ” Jeewandaara said.

“Nine samples from this area, with other samples from other areas of CMC, Karapitiya and Batticaloa were sequenced,” he added.

The Delta strain was detected in all five samples collected at Aramaya place while the B.1.1.7 (alpha/UK variant) was detected in samples collected from Karapitiya, Baticola, Colombo 6, Colombo 8 and Colombo 10.

“The delta variant is 50 percent more transmissible than the current dominant alpha variant in Sri Lanka,” Jeewandara said.

The new strain is more severe and capable of “evading one dose vaccine”, he added.

The university will issue a full report on the matter soon, said Jeewandara.

Earlier the delta variant was only detected in a quarantine centre, and no community transmission was detected until June 16.

Sri Lanka’s health authorities have been accused of reducing PCR tests and not focusing on random tests.


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President requests the opposition to support the implementation of the IMF agreement




President Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the Opposition to unite and disregard political differences to assist in carrying out the IMF agreement, which would aid in the development of Sri Lanka’s economy.

The President emphasized that his duty is not to condemn previous administrations but to concentrate on the development of the country. He also declared his dedication to constructing a better future by creating laws and frameworks that prevent the recurrence of past errors.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered this message in a special address to Parliament this morning (22) regarding the receipt of the Extended Credit Facility from the International Monetary Fund.

He stated that despite allegations being leveled against him that his objective was not to rescue the country from an economic crisis but to safeguard the Rajapaksa family, the international community had acknowledged his efforts to carry the country across the economic vine bridge.

The President further said that he had faith in rebuilding the beloved country where he was born, brought up and educated, and said that many past experiences were the reasons for confirming that faith.

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SJB, JVP move SC against Finance Secy. for contempt of court



The main Opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB), and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) yesterday (21) moved Supreme Court against Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over his failure to provide funds required by the Election Commission to conduct the Local Government polls, ignoring an interim order issued by the apex court, on 03 March.

Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, is the petitioner for the SJB and Vijitha Herath, MP, moved court on behalf of the JVP, the leading party in the Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB).

Two Opposition parties declared action against Siriwardana the day after the Freedom People’s Alliance (FPA) issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Finance Secretary to release the funds.

EC Chairman Nimal Punchihewa is on record as having said that in spite of SC directive he didn’t receive fresh funding.

The petitioners sought the issuance of summons on Siriwardana for contempt of court over failure to carry out its interim orders, given on 03 March.

The petitioners want the Finance Secretary punished in terms of Article 105 (3) of the Constitution.

The SJB stated that Siriwardana had refrained from carrying out the March directives, on the basis of a Cabinet decision, taken on 13 Feb., 2023. The SJB also pointed out that the offensive conduct of the Treasury Secretary, inter alia, causes grave prejudice to the esteemed authority of the Supreme Court and in turn disturb the public confidence in the authority of the highest Court in the country. (SF)

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Minister indicates reduction in fuel prices in April



Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara told Parliament yesterday that fuel prices would be reduced considerably according to the fuel price formula at the next fuel price revision, due in April.

The Minister said that the government would be able to procure fuel shipments, at lower prices, during competitive bidding, with the receipt of the IMF bailout.

There had been practical issues, and problems, in opening Letters of Credit, and obtaining credit facilities, in the recent past, as Sri Lanka could not give a guarantee to fuel suppliers, Minister Wijesekara said.

“We could not open LCs and obtain credit facilities when procuring fuel. After the IMF bailout, we will be able to procure fuel at lower prices during competitive biddings. We will be able to obtain a long-term credit facility as well. Fuel prices in the global market seem to have declined and the rupee has also gained strength against the US Dollar. Having considered all these factors, fuel prices will be reduced by a considerable margin which could be felt by the people,” he said.

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