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No time should be wasted to distract SL’s vaccine effort with myths or unproven theories – Association of Medical Specialists

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Covid-19 pandemic

In the backdrop of Sri Lanka nearing 50,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) called for a well coordinated and an efficient mechanism to speed up the process of securing the vaccine/s in this hour of need.

Appreciating the President and the government for their proactive efforts, Dr. L. A Ransinghe, president of the AMS, said in a news release, “we are aware of the global competition for securing the doses they need. It could be disastrous to entrust the total responsibility with regard to securing this to individuals or officials who function at snail pace”.

Sri Lanka is closing in on 50,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and it is very likely to have far in excess undetected in society. The death toll is on the rise. The economy has received a death blow. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as several vaccines are being lined up in the world as the only scientific battle against Covid-19, Dr. Ransinghe noted.

Around 20 countries have already started vaccinating their population against Covid-19. Although countries differ in identifying their order of priority, they all have very clearly identified the dire need of vaccination against the virus, he further said.

The AMS firmly believes that vaccination is the best available solution Sri Lanka has at present to face Covid-19 along with other public health measures. There is a strong justification to use the vaccines currently approved in the rest of the world in our country as soon as possible. It is quite misleading to state that they are still in the experimental stage, he added.

“No time should be wasted to distract the vaccine effort with myths or unproven theories. The widely used vaccines that were born through extremely efficient and highly coordinated use of scientific research have also gone through stringent regulatory approvals from credible agencies which include the WHO. Further, they will have to be approved by the National Medicines Regulatory Authority too before its use in Sri Lanka, Dr. Ranasinghe continued.

“We wish to alert authorities that some may adopt delaying tactics deliberately for various reasons. Some officials in the Ministry of health have track records for ‘delays’ in many tasks they were assigned in the past.”, he said.

Dr. Ranasinghe further said in the media release: “Sri Lanka stands out in the world map for our strong public health services that has beaten even many developed countries, with our vaccine coverage and acceptance being among the best in the world. With the high literacy rate and efficient public health network, mass vaccination is nothing new to our health services.

“Being an island with secure borders and a population of only 21 million, we are a country where vaccinating the entire eligible population including the country’s total work force on a priority order is a realistic and feasible option.

“It is also a worthwhile investment, not only for health but also the economic benefits it will deliver. This will place us in a unique situation, with our ability to fully open the country where factories and tourism and our economy can jump ahead of many others, making Sri Lanka one of the safest countries in the world to travel and to deal with.

“It is best that we take advantage of our unique circumstances. For the best outcome, extreme efficiency is a must and we will need top officials with a proven track record handing our vaccine effort.

“The AMS wishes to propose that we resort to a multi-pronged effort to reach success fast. It should include prompt and efficient response in obtaining the free quota of vaccines offered for 20% of our population through the COVAX facility, negotiating with various sources and countries to obtain or buy more doses to cover the balance population, and permitting and facilitating the private sector also to import, distribute and vaccinate, with state monitoring to help effective coverage of the population who could afford the vaccine privately. AMS will extend its maximum support to make this effort a grand success”.

 

 

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Covid-19 vaccination programme: MPs not in priority group; President, armed forces chiefs in ‘third category’ 

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday (25) said that members of Parliament were not among those categorised as priority groups expected to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fernandopulle said so in response to The Island query whether parliamentarians would receive the vaccine scheduled to be delivered by India this week. Asked to explain, Dr. Fernandopulle said that health workers, armed forces and law enforcement personnel engaged in Covid-19 prevention operations would be given priority.

“Lawmakers haven’t been listed under priority groups. However, some members may get the vaccine if they are accommodated in the over 60 years category and those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer et al,” the State minister said.

In addition to State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, several lawmakers, representing both the government and the Opposition had been afflicted over the past several weeks. SLPP lawmaker Wasantha Yapa Bandara (Kandy district) is the latest victim. Health minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi was among over half a dozen lawmakers tested positive.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva told Derana yesterday morning Sri Lanka would receive approximately 500,000 to 600,000 doses from India. Responding to a spate of questions from Derana anchor Sanka Amarjith, Gen. Silva explained the measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth vaccination programme. The Army Chief who also functions as the Chief of Defence Staff revealed India had paid for the consignment obtained from the UK.

Later in the day, The Island sought an explanation from the Army Chief regarding the President, Service Commanders, Secretary Defence given the vaccination along with frontline health workers et al, the celebrated battlefield commander said: “Will be in third priority group.”

Asked whether the student population would be accommodated at an early stage of the vaccination programme, Dr. Fernandopulle said that those under 18 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers wouldn’t be included at all as such groups hadn’t been subjected to trials. Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera wasn’t available for comment.

Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized the pivotal importance of following health guidelines strictly in spite of the launch of the vaccination programme. “We shouldn’t lower our guard under any circumstances,” Dr. Fernandopulle said, urging the population to be mindful of those unable to receive the vaccination due to no fault of theirs. As those under 18 years of age had been left out of the vaccination programme, a substantial section of the population would be denied the protection, the State Minister said.

Sri Lanka is also expected to procure vaccines from China and Russia in addition to the doses from India. Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe wasn’t available for comment.

Sri Lanka launches the vaccination programme with the total number of positive cases nearing 60,000 with nearly 50,000 recoveries. The government recently re-opened the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following a pilot programme that brought over 1,200 Ukrainians in dozen flights through the Mattala International Airport.

Dr. Fernandopulle said that the government was ready to launch the vaccination programme as soon as the first consignment arrived from India.

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Tennis balls filled with drugs thrown into Kandakadu Covid-19 treatment centre

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By Norman Palihawadane

Two tennis balls filled with drugs had been thrown into the Covid-19 treatment centre at Kandakadu, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.

The contraband was found on Saturday by the Army officers attached to the facility.

DIG Rohana said the two tennis balls containing cannabis, heroin and tobacco, had been handed over to the Welikanda Police.

A special investigation has been launched into the incident, the Police Spokesperson said. Such incidents had been previously reported from Welikada, Negombo and other prisons, but it was the first time contraband containing narcotics had been thrown into a Covid-19 treatment centre, he added.

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All cargo clearances at Colombo port now through electronic payments

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The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has introduced a system where payment for imports could be made via the Internet. This allows port users to make payments from their homes or offices to clear goods from the Port of Colombo.

The SLPA has said in a media statement that the new special facility will enable port users to make their port payments easily without hassle.

At present, all terminals of the Port of Colombo are run according to a strategic crisis management plan.

 

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