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Kumudesh calls on NMRA to come up with protocol to validate rapid antigen test kits

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) should come up with a protocol on validating rapid antigen test kits, President of the College of Medical Laboratory Science, Ravi Kumudesh said yesterday. 

Kumudesh told The Island, “The sample to validate these kits must be chosen randomly. Given that these antigen tests only detect those with a high viral load, someone can do the tests among people they suspect to have high viral loads to come up with a favourable result.”

Kumudesh said that there were close to 200 companies that produced rapid antigen test kits. Contrary to some claims, the World Health Organization (WHO) had not given approval for two companies cited here, Kumudesh said.

“WHO approved these considering the situation in the US. In the US presidential election was drawing near and COVID19 cases were exploding. That’s why these two US-based kits were mentioned, but the WHO never said other kits were bad. Therefore, we have no reason to ignore kits from China, India and Germany”.

Replacing PCR tests with rapid antigen testing would create a large number of false data and wrong mapping of the COVID hotspots,  Kumudesh said. 

He said that given the current health crisis, they were not opposed to the use of rapid antigen test kits.

“In the broader context rapid antigen testing is like a straw given to a desperate drowning man but we are in a position where even this straw might come in handy. We believe that the sensitivity of the test, based on peer reviewed research conducted by other countries, to be around 50-60%. The Health Ministry must create an algorithm, identify areas where PCR testing can’t be done and use the rapid tests there. It would be good even if we can get some results in an area where PCR testing is impossible but it will be a mess if we try to substitute rapid antigen testing for PCR testing.”

 

 



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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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