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More than 10,000 acres of forest already destroyed under present govt. – JVP

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National Committee Member of the SYU Sanjaya Wishwanath flanked by Colombo District Organiser Anjana Sampath Amarasinghe (Left) and National Organizer Eranga Gunasekera addressing media at the JVP headquarters in Pelawatte yesterday,

 

By Saman Indrajith

The JVP’s youth wing Socialist Youth Union yesterday alleged that around 10,000 acres of forests had been cleared since the new government came to power.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters in Pelawatte yesterday, National Organizer of the SYU Eranga Gunasekera said development did not mean increasing the number of concrete buildings at the expense of the environment. “We received information that Dahaiyagala forest in Thanamalwila was being cleared on Jan 30. Our members visited the area on Feb 20 and 21 and witnessed that around 1,000 acres had been cleared. We have videos and photos to prove that trees that are older than 75-100 years have been felled. According to villagers the jungle had been cleared to help a businessman who is building a resort in the jungle. Two acres in Anavilundawa Ramsar wetland site had been bulldozed. Ten acres of Vanathavilluwa jungle had been cleared up. We have information that 5,426 acres in the Galawalayaya jungle belonging to the Veddah people have been cleared. A crony businessman of the government has been given permission to grow aloe vera in 1,500 acres of Wilapattu jungle. Another businessman has been given permission to clear 150 acres in the Ratmale reserve in Horowpathana. Seven hundred acres of the Muthurajawela marshland jungle has been bulldozed. Two and half acres of Kurunegala Rajapeela forest have been cleared. Ten acres of another forest in Agundawa in the Sigiriya have been cleared by another government crony businessman. An extent of eight acres is being cleared in Gotiyagama in Sinharaja. Twenty one acres of Thabbowa jungle in Kruwalagaswewa have been destroyed in the name of development. Ten acres of jungle near Kodagoda in Thanamalwila have been cleared. Regional politicians and businessmen friends of the ruling party are engaged in this destruction.”

“In these cases the clearings have been done using bulldozers. Everybody knows that the villagers in nearby areas cannot afford to hire bulldozers and those jungle clearings have been done by very powerful politicians and their businessmen cronies,” he said.

 Gunasekera said that the incumbent government and its Viyathmaga group were critical of what the previous government had done. “The Vistas of Splendour manifesto promised to increase the country’s forest cover by 30 per cent but their acts are totally opposite of the promises they made,” he said

 National Committee Member of the SYU Sanjaya Wishwanath said that the past year would go on the records someday as the one which witnessed the highest number of destruction inflicted on the environment. “We are planning to line up the youth of this country against the environment destruction. We are planning to stage countrywide protests. We hope those who love the environment will line up with us to save the environment.”

Colombo District Organiser of SYU Anjana Sampath Amarasinghe also addressed the press.



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Facilities for infected pregnant women inadequate – SLCOG

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The distribution and availability of high-flow oxygen machines to treat Covid-19 infected pregnant women were not adequate, President of the Sri Lanka College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (SLCOG,) Dr. Pradeep de Silva said yesterday.

Dr. de Silva said that while they had not yet faced any lack of oxygen in treating Covid-19 infected pregnant mothers, things could change rapidly given the limited availability of equipment. “Having an adequate supply of oxygen alone is not enough. You need high flow oxygen machines, and 50 litres of oxygen per minute is needed to operate a high flow oxygen machine. I do not know how many machines we have in this country but where I work, Castle Street Maternity Hospital has about four. We need to estimate the number of these machines we require and how much oxygen we want. From my understanding, the distribution and availability of high flow oxygen machines to treat Covid-19 infected pregnant mothers is not adequate.”

Dr de Silva said that Sri Lanka needed about 50–200 high-dependency unit (HDU) beds per district, based on the population, 10–50 high flow oxygen machines per district, four for ten ICU beds and two dedicated Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machines.

“If we get this, we will be able to deal with pregnant women who develop complications from COVID-19 for the next four to five years,” he said.

Dr de Silva said that currently one pregnant woman who has been infected with COVID-19 is receiving ECMO treatment. There is also a shortage of beds at the Mulleriyawa Base Hospital, which has the largest ward dedicated to COVID-19 infected pregnant women. On Thursday, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Dr Mayuramana Dewolage, who heads the ward that treats COVID-19 infected pregnant women at the Mulleriyawa Base Hospital, said that they only had 37 beds were dedicated to pregnant women with COVID-19. They didn’t have any HDU or ICU beds dedicated for their use, he said.

“We share HDU and ICU beds with other patients at Mulleriyawa Base Hospital,” Dr Dewolage said.

The President of the SLCOG also urged all hospitals to find a separate space for pregnant women who were receiving treatment at their institutions. When COVID-19 pandemic started, the Health Ministry instructed all hospitals to do so but it was now obvious that those instructions had not been followed, he said.

“When the second wave started people got ready but later, they just stopped getting ready and now we are unprepared to meet the challenges of the third wave. We need to find a way to manage this. If the Ministry of Health has not prepared a plan, we are ready to help formulate one,” the President of the SLCOG said.

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Those who had AstraZeneca first jab, should take Sputnik V with adenovirus 26 – Specialist

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

If those who have taken the first dose of AstraZeneca are to receive a second jab of Sputnik V, they should take the first Sputnik V vaccine with adenovirus 26 (Ad26), Consultant Immunologist and head of the department of Immunology-MRI, Dr Nihan Rajiva de Silva says.

Dr. de Silva said that the first dose of Sputnik had Ad 26 and the second had adenovirus-5. “Adenovirus-5 is common. We may have been exposed to that and we may have developed antibodies. Adenovirus-26 is rarer and we will better respond to that. That is why the vaccine-maker has used adenovirus-26 in the first vaccine. So, if you had a first jab of AstraZeneca and you are to get the second dose from Sputnik-V remember to get the first jab,” Dr. de Silva said.

He added that any vaccine has the chance of reducing the severity of the virus and that the general public should get vaccinated when the opportunity is available.

Dr. de Silva said that there was a shortage of AstraZeneca vaccines because the Serum Institute of India could not deliver shipments as promised.

“However, we are now getting Sputnik V vaccines and we are looking at mixing them. There is a study in Russia about the efficiency of mixing Sputnik V with AstraZeneca and the results should be out soon. I can say that theoretically mixing the two vaccines should work,” he said.

Dr. de Silva added that the AstraZeneca vaccine should work against the new variant spreading in the country.

Consultant Cardiologist at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Dr. Gotabaya Ranasinghe said that those with heart issues, non-communicable diseases and were obese must get vaccinated to minimise the complications of Covid-19.

Dr. Ranasinghe said that those in the above-mentioned categories were at risk of contracting, getting complications and dying of COVID-19 and research had proven that vaccination would reduce the chance of such eventualities.

“If you worry about getting vaccinated, talk to your doctor. Don’t seek advice from friends and family,” he said.

Dr. Ranasinghe added that they had limited the number of heart surgeries they do due to COVID-19. ICU beds used for heart patients too were being now allocated for COVID-19 patients. “We only do the most pressing cases. But this means that the waiting list keeps on growing. Now, the waiting list is over eight months. If we limit the surgeries more and keep taking away ICU beds available for those who have had heart surgeries, the waiting list will grow further,” he said.

The Consultant Cardiologist also advised the public to eat healthy food and engage in moderate exercises, at least five days a week. This will reduce the mental stress as well as boost the immune system. ‘We recommend moderate exercises like jogging and brisk walking, for 30 minutes, five days a week. Being healthy is as important as wearing masks or adhering to physical distancing,” he said.

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STF raids narcotics distribution centre close to Bloemendhal police station

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Acting on information received from the Organised Crime Fighting Unit of the elite Special Task Force (STF), police commandos, on Thursday (6), arrested a person running a narcotic distributing network, 1.5 km away from the Bloemendhal police station.

The STF identified the suspect as Thawasidevan Pradeep Kumar, 21, a key associate of one Suresh with links to a criminal outfit run by Kimbulaele Guna, now absconding in India.

DIG (Legal) Ajith Rohana said that the raiding party had recovered 2 kg, 22 g and 88mg of ‘ICE,’ with a street value of Rs 25 mn in addition to 4kg, 2 g and 527 mg of substance known as ‘hash,’ as well as Rs 400,000 in cash and a mobile phone.

Kimbulaele Guna is believed to have sought refuge following an LTTE attempt to assassinate President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga at the final PA presidential election rally at the Town Hall in December 1999.

DIG Rohana said that Guna’s brother Suresh was a major heroin distributor in Colombo. The STF later handed over the suspect, along with contraband and locally made ‘hash,’ and his phone to the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB). The raid on the heroin distribution centre situated in Aluth Mawatha, Colombo 15, followed specific information received as regards the ‘operation’ conducted with impunity (SF)

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