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Jab tussle: Army denies GMOA allegations

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The Army yesterday denied allegations made by the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) last week that the security forces continued to interfere with the anti-COVID-19 activities carried out by health officials in the Eastern Province.

The Army said on 01 July, the GMOA claimed that it representatives from the East had informed that security forces were meddling with the vaccination programme as well. Although the GMOA wrote to the Secretary to the Ministry of Health, and copied the letter to the Minister of Health and several other agencies, it did not forward a copy to the Army.

“Neither General Shavendra Silva, Head of the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO), nor the Director, Preventive Medicine in the Army, who maintains close coordination with Health authorities, since the beginning of the country-wide vaccination project, received a copy of the letter,” the Army said.

The Army began its engagement with the vaccination process when it inoculated security forces personnel carrying out anti-COVID-19 activities, on 28 January 2021. Later, the army made available its medical specialists, medical officers, nursing and paramedical staff for the vaccination process countrywide, the army said.

“Recently, on the advice of the President, the security forces were asked to take charge of inoculating apparel industry employees countrywide. Accordingly, Security Forces began vaccination of garment workers on Poson Poya day (24 June). About 59,898 garment workers in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya, Seethawaka, Koggala, Ampara, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Katunayake and Wathupitiwela areas were vaccinated within 48 hours,” the Army said.

For this task, the Army had been given 60,000 phials of the vaccine by the Epidemiology Unit at the Health Ministry. Before inoculation of apparel sector employees, medical teams of the Security Forces, including respective Division/Brigade Commanders initiated planning discussions with respective Regional Directors of Health Services (RDHS).  This is the officer who is responsible for Regional Epidemiologists, Medical Officers of Health, PHIs, et al.

“This was done when we carried out the vaccination campaign in the East too,” the Army said.

The Army denied GMOA allegations that around 10% of those who received the jab there had reported vaccine-related adverse effects. If some post vaccination  complications had developed among a limited number of garment employees, it could have been due to multiple reasons.  The GMOA however had alleged that this was due to errors made by security forces, without any evidence, the Army said.

The Army added that it was unfair to allege that the security forces had intervened in the affairs of medical staff and that these allegations are possibly made due to vested interests. 



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Washington will continue to support Lanka’s fight against Covid-19

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US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz explaining a point to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Aebywardena during their meeting yesterday.

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz yesterday said that the US would continue to support Sri Lanka’s fight against Covid-19 through the COVAX facility.

She made the pledge during a courtesy call on Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday, Parliament sources said.

Marcus Carpenter, Deputy Chief of political division and Kushani Rohanadeera, Deputy Secretary-General of Parliament and Chief of Staff were also present at the meeting which was held at the Speaker’s Office in Parliament.

A number of issues of mutual interest were discussed between Sri Lanka and the US, including diplomatic and economic matters. Furthermore, the future intended investments of the United States in Sri Lanka for the future of the energy sector were also discussed, sources said.

The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka expressed how pleased she was over the steps taken to establish a Special Committee for the purpose of reforming the current electoral system in Sri Lanka and the steps taken by Parliament to re-establish the Sectoral Oversight Committees of Parliament.

The Ambassador also informed the Speaker that the US continues to support the development of Sri Lanka and protect democracy in the face of COVID faced by the whole world.

 

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Institute of Chemistry organises webinar on ‘Genes, Immunity and COVID-19 Vaccines’

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Arrangements have been made by the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon to conduct a webinar on “Genes, Immunity and COVID-19 Vaccines” with the intention of disseminating awareness on the widely spread COVID-19 and the importance of vaccination.

The webinar will be held via zoom from 8.30 am to 12.00 noon on Sept 4, a press release issued by the Institute said yesterday.

It said: The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak that originated in the city of Wuhan, China, has claimed countless lives within a span of two years causing significant damage to the world’s population and the global economy. Within the passage of a year, the emergence of changing COVID-19 variants with higher transmissibility, increased fatality was discovered around the globe. Currently, Sri Lanka is fighting the third wave of coronavirus and there has been an increase in the number of cases of the highly transmissible Delta variant of coronavirus across the country.

With the current situation, the need and importance of vaccination has become a vital tool in the battle against coronavirus. Vaccines save millions of lives each year and the development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a huge step taken forward in the effort to end the pandemic. Misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines provided by different information channels have led to hesitations in accepting the COVID-19 vaccine among the population. This seminar will provide information on COVID-19 vaccines currently available and will be an immense help to clear any doubt with regards to COVID-19 vaccines.

The programme hopes to cover topics such as “Genomics of COVID-19” by Dr. Sameera. R. Samarakoon. “COVID-19 and Nutrition” by Prof. Ranil Jayawardena, “Immune response in COVID- 19: friend or foe” by Dr. Narmada Fernando, “COVID-19 Vaccine: What is Best” by Prof. Chandima Jeewandra and “Concluding Remarks and a Q&A session” by Prof. Nimal Punyasiri. The seminar will be moderated by Prof. Chayanika Padumadasa.

You can register to this webinar by visiting the IchemC website (ichemc.edu.lk) while more information can be obtained by contacting the Institute at 011-2861231. Also you may obtain information by sending an email to covidseminar21@gmail.com

For more details, please contact Ms. Nishadi (077 730 6270) / Ms. Shanali (076 553 2142)

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COVID Shield app introduced to Sri Lanka to fight against COVID-19 pandemic

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Health Informatics Society of Sri Lanka (HISSL) and the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health (CWCDH) have introduced the COVID Shield app to Sri Lanka to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID Shield App allows users to assess their lung health on a regular basis to identify deteriorations associated with COVID-19 early.

The app uses the in-built sound recording features of a smartphone to analyze the breathing sounds and gather additional data when the user performs several simple tests to determine breathing performance.

The app tracks lung health along with other symptoms to support identifying COVID-19 related deterioration early.

In addition to identifying the state of lung health, COVID Shield is also capable of providing the users with alerts based on overall assessment of his or her symptoms. Based on these alerts, the users can take the next step without delaying seeking medical advice. The users will also receive COVID-19 related health education and latest statistics from reliable sources on his or her dashboard.

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