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KDU and CUI, Pakistan collaborate on advanced biomaterial research

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University Islamabad in Pakistan (CUI) and General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) in Sri Lanka have inked a Document of Understanding to collaborate on advanced biomaterial research.

Prof. Dr. Muhammad Tabassum Afzal, Rector CUI and Major General Milinda Peiris, Vice Chancellor, KDU signed the document of collaboration at a ceremony held online, COMSATS said in a press release.

The Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Biomedical Materials (IRCBM), a state of the art research centre at CUI Lahore campus will collaborate with KDU on respective national regulations on safety and security of sensitive materials, goods, technologies and equipment.

Prof. Afzal said that the core focus of partnership between CUI and KDU will be in the field of advanced biomaterials and allied areas that are much needed in Pakistan. “While there is a limited development of products such as synthetic skin substitute, wound dressings for foot ulcer patients, artificial bone fillers, disease monitoring and diagnostic devices and stem cells linked with therapies in our part of the world. The future is indeed bright with the kind of functional partnership such as the one we are signing today.”

Prof. Afzal also added that interdisciplinary research in IRCBM is globally recognized and transnational in nature. “It is our crown jewel because of its high impact factor research. While CUI continues to grow within Pakistan, we are also very keen on developing our international linkages and partnership with centres of excellence in the developing world.”

The centre was established in the year 2008 to research and deliver indigenously-developed low-cost healthcare solutions to the local market.

Prof. Afzal conveyed his satisfaction that currently three brilliant and outstanding Sri Lankan students are studying in CUI doing their MS degrees. He desired hosting more international students from Sri Lanka, thus offered 100 percent tuition fee waiver to the Sri Lankan students particularly from KDU.

Major General Milinda Peiris said that the objectives of collaboration is to cooperate and develop the activities related to any field in which CUI and KDU have shared interests, such as biomaterials, tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, sensors and biosensors and allied fields.

In addition, both universities will explore possibility of exchange of programs for students, faculty members and scientists, joint supervision of PhD students, mutual organisation of lectures, conferences, symposia and training programmes.

Maj. Gen. Dr. Shahid Ahmad Hashmat (Retd.) former High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka informed about efforts of the Government of Pakistan for the promotion of educational and research opportunities with Sri Lanka. He explained efforts of the Higher Education Commission, Government of Pakistan to offer fully funded scholarships to the students of Sri Lanka who wish to study BS, MS and PhD programmes in leading universities of Pakistan.

UI Niyas, Counsellor (Political and Trade), High Commission of Sri Lanka in Pakistan thanked for giving opportunity to the Sri Lankan High Commission in Islamabad to witness signing of DOU between top universities of both countries. He appreciated KDU as well as CUI’s development and growth.

He said that he is very happy and confident that this collaboration will be the initial step and will open more avenues of partnership between the two universities.



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GL explains to UN Special Rapporteur Lanka’s progress related to labour welfare

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Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris has explained to UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, including its causes and consequences, Tomoya Obokata, Sri Lanka’s progress related to labour welfare and the constructive steps taken by the government to eradicate child labour.

The Minister also elaborated on steps taken to bring our labour laws in line with international standards in a number of areas, including child labour, migrant workers and debt bondage. The Special Rapporteur commended Sri Lanka on the progress made with regard to making Sri Lanka a ‘child labour free zone’.

The UN official called on Prof. Peiris on Friday, 26 November, at the Foreign Ministry.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur includes but is not limited to issues such as: traditional slavery, debt bondage, forced labour, children in slavery and slavery-like conditions, sexual slavery, forced and early marriages as well as issues faced by migrant workers and foreign labour.

The Foreign Minister outlined that Sri Lanka was conscious of protecting vulnerable labour groups and emphasized that Sri Lanka will continue to cooperate with the United Nations system. He stated that visits by Special Procedures Mandate Holders have been helpful in enhancing understanding of the specificities of Sri Lanka’s experiences in related fields as well as in improving domestic processes to be in line with our international commitments.

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More gas explosions

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Two women injured

By Rathindra Kuruwita

There were 11 new explosions related to domestic gas cylinders in the 24 hours that ended at 12 noon yesterday. Among the areas these explosions were reported are Agama, Karana, Hungnam, Walasmulla, Kundasale, Katugastota, Dimbula and Giriulla.

Two women have been injured in these latest explosions. In some instances, the gas cooker wasn’t even on when the explosions happened.

Meanwhile, Litro has introduced the hotline, 1311, for the public to make any complaints with regard to their gas cylinders. Once a complaint is received, a team of technicians will arrive and check the cylinder, the company said.

Litro also urged the public not to try any experiments to see if the cylinders are safe.

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Countries tighten travel rules to slow Omicron spread

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Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Norway, Ghana confirm first cases of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant as countries tighten travel rules.

The United States, Japan and Malaysia have announced tighter travel restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant as more countries confirmed their first cases.

Japan and Hong Kong said on Wednesday they would expand travel curbs, and Malaysia temporarily banned travellers from countries deemed at risk, news agencies reported.

Hong Kong added Japan, Portugal and Sweden to its travel restrictions while Uzbekistan said it would suspend flights with Hong Kong as well as South Africa. Japan, which had already barred all new foreign entrants, reported its second case of the new variant and said it would expand its entry ban to foreigners with resident status from 10 African countries.

Malaysia temporarily barred travellers from eight African countries and said Britain and the Netherlands could join the list.

In North America, air travellers to the US were set to face tougher COVID-19 testing rules.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said late on Tuesday that the US would require all air travellers entering the country to show a negative COVID-19 test performed within one day of departure.

Currently, vaccinated international travellers can present a negative result obtained within three days from their point of departure. The new one-day testing requirement would apply to US citizens as well as foreign nationals.

Global spread

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry said it recorded the Gulf’s first confirmed case of the Omicron variant in a citizen returning from North Africa.

Nigeria said it had confirmed two cases of the Omicron variant among travellers who had arrived from South Africa in the past week. Ghana and Norway also reported their first cases of the new variant on Wednesday.

Brazilian health regulator Anvisa said late on Tuesday that two Brazilians had tested positive for the Omicron strain, the first reported cases in Latin America. A traveller arriving in Sao Paulo from South Africa and his wife, who had not travelled, had tested positive.

Germany, which is battling a surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths, reported that four fully vaccinated people had tested positive for Omicron in the south of the country but had moderate symptoms.

It also reported the highest number of deaths from coronavirus since mid-February on Wednesday, as hospitals warned that the country could have 6,000 people in intensive care by Christmas, above the peak of last winter.

Other countries braced for more cases: Australia said at least two people visited several locations in Sydney while likely infectious and Denmark said an infected person had taken part in a large concert.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said “blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods”, while advising those unwell, vulnerable or 60 years or over and unvaccinated to postpone travel.

Global health officials have offered reassurances and reiterated calls for people to get vaccinated.

BioNTech’s CEO said the vaccine it makes in a partnership with Pfizer would likely offer strong protection against severe disease from Omicron.

European Medicines Agency Executive Director Emer Cooke earlier said that laboratory analyses should indicate over the next couple of weeks whether the blood of vaccinated people has sufficient antibodies to neutralise the new variant.

The European Union brought forward the start of its vaccine distribution programme for five-to-11-year-old children by a week to December 13.

Britain, the US and European countries have expanded their booster programmes in response to the new variant.

First reported in South Africa a week ago, Omicron has highlighted the disparity between substantial vaccination pushes in rich nations and sparse inoculation in the developing world.

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