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Medical specialists predict Omicron tsunami, urge public to be cautious



By Rathindra Kuruwita

It is inevitable that the Omicron variant will cause a massive wave of infection during the coming weeks, President of the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) Dr. LakKumar Fernando says.

Dr. Lakkumar has said that in April 2021, many Sri Lankans ignored health guidelines and that resulted in a wave of infections, followed by an explosive spread of the Delta variant infections. Almost 15,000 people died and the hospital capacity was stretched to the limit.

“In spite of this bad experience, we note with dismay that history is repeating itself. Shops, bars, 31st night parties, etc. were jam packed. This occurred while the Omicron variant was spreading. It is, therefore, inevitable that the Omicron variant will cause a massive wave of infections during the coming weeks. The only way to tackle this wave is to get vaccinated, wear a mask, keep a safe distance, open windows for adequate ventilation, clean your hands and cough and sneeze safely,” he said.

Dr. Fernando said that Sri Lankans needed to continue to take all the above precautions even after taking vaccine doses. While almost 85% of the target population in Sri Lanka (> 16 years) have been double jabbed, two doses of AstraZeneca or Pfizer were not effective in preventing infection, especially from the Omicron variant.

“For example, a study in the UK showed that, 15 weeks after two doses of the Astra Zeneca (AZ) vaccine, protection against clinical disease became zero. The corresponding figure for Pfizer was 34%. However, a booster dose of Pfizer given to people vaccinated with 2 doses of AZ vaccine boosted the effectiveness against clinical disease to 70%. It is quite probable that the vaccines will prevent severe disease in most people,” he said.

The AMS President added that only 25% Sri Lankans in the target population had taken the booster and thus the rest were at risk of contracting Omicron. Therefore, the AMS strongly urged everyone to take the booster, in order to reduce chances of the disease, protect the vulnerable, prevent hospital capacity being overwhelmed and prevent a lockdown which could lead our country to further economic disaster.

“The Omicron variant of corona virus is spreading rapidly around the world, and has superseded the Delta variant in most countries. Even with the limited sequencing capacity available, 47 patients infected with Omicron have been detected so far in Sri Lanka. The situation in the West and South Africa shows that it spreads extremely fast. For example, Ireland recorded more Covid-19 cases over the holiday period (120,000 cases from 25 – 31 December 2021) than all of 2020 (91,779 cases), according to the country’s department of health. While Omicron is probably milder than the Delta variant, as it is transmitted much more efficiently, many more people will be infected and therefore hospital capacities may be exceeded due to the sheer number of people affected,” he said.

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Canadian declaration of ‘Tamil genocide’ may influence European parliaments, EU – Maj. Gen. (retd.) Gallage



‘Counter lies, or face consequences’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Retired Maj. Gen. Chagie Gallage says controversial Canadian House of Commons declaration that Tamil genocide took place in Sri Lanka may influence many Western parliaments as well as the EU.

The Gajaba Regiment war veteran said that the recognition of 18th May, the day Sri Lanka defeated terrorism as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day was an affront to Sri Lanka.

The ex-combat officer said that the government owed an explanation without delay. Perhaps, Sri Lanka parliament should remind Canada of deaths of hundreds of native residential school students, who had been literally snatched from their families, the retired officer said, adding that it would be interesting to see whether any political parties, civil society groups or those who issue statements against Sri Lanka at the drop of a hat would question the Canada’s gruesome past. So far unmarked graves of more than 1000 native children have been found on the grounds of such schools run till the mid-1990s, the retired Major General said.

Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree, son of veteran Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader V. Anandasangaree presented the motion on Wednesday (18). “Canada becomes the first national parliament in the world to recognize May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day,” tweeted, Anandasangree, the MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park.

The motion states that “this House acknowledges the Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka, and recognizes May 18th of each year as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day”.

The House of Commons unanimously accepted the motion.

Gallage alleged that Sri Lanka lacked political will to counter the campaign against the country. Acknowledging the current political-fiscal -social crisis caused by decades of economic mismanagement, he warned that the Canadian declaration would have disastrous consequences. Would the government care to examine how interested parties could exploit the Canadian condemnation of Sri Lanka? Gallage asked.

Sri Lanka brought the war to a successful conclusion in the third week of May 2009.

Gallage questioned the responsibility on the part of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministries for Sri Lanka’s failure to meet the challenge.

Anandasangaree brought forward the motion on the 13th anniversary of the annihilation of the LTTE fighting cadre at Mullivaikkal.

Retired Maj. Gen. said that those who had failed to throw a lifeline to the LTTE as the military brought the war to a rapid conclusion worked overtime for the realization of the Canadian project.

Responding to another query, Gallage said that declaration of May 18 as Tamil Genocide Remembrance Day should be examined against the backdrop of Sri Lanka co-sponsoring an accountability resolution against itself at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in early Oct. 2015 under the yahapalana regime.

Gallage recalled how Australia denied him a visa during yahapalana administration though there hadn’t been specific war crimes allegations against him. Australia also found fault with Gallage for being in command of the 59 Division from May 7, 2009 to July 20, 2009.

Established in Jan, 2008, the 59 Division, deployed on the eastern flank aka the Weli Oya front, fought under the then Brig. Nandana Udawatte’s command for one year to cross the Anandakulam and Nagacholai forest reserves, which served as natural defences for the LTTE Mullaitivu stronghold.

Maj. Gen. Gallage said that the Parliament should respond to the Canadian House of Commons declaration on Tamil genocide. The former senior officer who was always in the thick of combat reiterated that unless tangible action was taken immediately the Canadian motion would cause irreparable damage. The Tamil Diaspora would exploit their success with Canadian political parties to pressure other countries, Gallage said, the coming Geneva sessions would be quite a challenge.

He urged the current military top brass to make representations to the government as regards the damning unfair Canadian indictment of Sri Lanka. “We should ask Canada to share with us information on the basis its Parliament reached conclusion that genocide took place here. The very basis of their declaration is questionable,” Gallage said, adding that Sri Lanka should officially inform Canada of the Indian intervention that led to the deaths of thousands, both before and after the deployment of the Indian Army (1987-1990), killing of one-time Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by an LTTE female suicide cadre and the sea borne attempt to assassinate the Maldivian President in 1989. “We should set the record straight. We should use wartime British High Commission cables now in the public domain to counter lies,” the Gajaba Regiment veteran said.

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Some MPs seek hotel accommodation to attend parliament



Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament yesterday that a group of MPs had requested that they be provided hotel accommodations for them to attend Parliament sittings.

Speaker Abeywardena said that the request had been made due to the prevailing fuel crisis.

The Speaker said that some MPs who travelled from outstations were unable to return home due to the fuel shortage.

“Therefore, they have requested me to book a hotel for them to stay in Colombo to attend Parliament proceedings,” he said.

The Speaker’s clarification came as reports of MPs being provided fuel at a subsidised rate were raised in Parliament yesterday.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that fuel had not been given at subsidised rates to any MP.

Many government MPs also lost life possessions as their houses were looted and torched by marauding mobs early last week.

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Elder brother says MR should have known when to quit politics



SLPP MP and former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that his younger brother former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa should have retired from politics after concluding his second term as President.

“Nearly 50 years of his outstanding political achievements and journey have been lost at present,” he said.

“If we become greedy for power and positions then we face such consequences as we see today,” he said.

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