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Management expert warns automatic benefits of lockdown will be lost soon

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The government had not set any objectives to achieve during the current lockdown, and therefore it was likely that automatic benefits of the lockdown would be lost soon, Pharmaceutical and healthcare management consultant Dr. Sanjaya Perera told The Island yesterday.

He said that instead of imposing a lockdown due to external pressure, the government should have imposed restrictions with the aim of achieving set objectives. A number of medical experts had already highlighted what activities should accompany a lockdown, Dr. Perera said.

“The lockdown will surely help the health sector recover a bit. The staff is exhausted because of the rapidly increasing patients. Hundreds of health staff had contracted COVID-19 themselves. The 10 days gives the health staff an opportunity to recover and some of the health staff who had contracted the virus will be cured and can return to work by 30 August. However, the question is what have we done to improve the facilities and the capabilities of the staff,” he asked.

Dr. Perera said that the past week could have been used to increase wards for coronavirus patients, interim care centres and improve health staff wellbeing. The fact that those requirements were not attended to, showed that the government had gone into the lockdown without any set objectives.

He said medical experts had also urged the government to test at least 30,000 families per district to identify areas where the spread of COVID-19 was less. The lockdown could have been used to test 750,000 families in the 25 districts and the results could have helped the government to identify areas which were not affected by COVID-19.

“These less affected areas can be Orange Zones. The health officers could take steps to secure these Orange Zones and slowly expand upon these areas. This was in about six months, we could create a significant amount of areas that one can operate with relative freedom. However, we have reduced testing,” he said.

Dr. Perera said that a large number of people keep on coming to the cities even during the lockdown and with about three million people working the purpose of a lockdown is defeated. Private enterprises also needed to act with greater responsibility and understand that bringing in clerical staff to work at present was a waste of resources and only made the economic recovery of the country more difficult.

“I have heard of instances where people have been asked to come to work when they were showing COVID symptoms. And mind you this was an IT firm. The government must make a serious attempt to stop this inflow of people into major cities,” he said.

Once the lockdown was over, most of the public and private institutions would pretend that things were back to normal, bring in workers who could essentially carry out all their tasks from home and soon all the gains from the lockdown would be gone, he said.



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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