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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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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused



By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.



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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas



By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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