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Obstetricians & Gynaecologists urge govt to vaccinate pregnant women ‘as soon as possible’’



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The government should consider vaccinating the 319,000 pregnant women on a priority basis the Sri Lanka College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (SLCOG) said yesterday.

Addressing the media in Colombo, President of the SLCOG, Dr. Pradeep de Silva said that ensuring the safety of pregnant women was a top priority. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) had recommended that the risk of not vaccinating pregnant women was much greater than the slight chance of complications, he said.

“Most of these women will be vaccinated, but what we are suggesting is that they be moved to a higher priority,” Dr. de Silva said.

SLCOG had calculated the facilities needed to ensure the safety of pregnant women who develop complications from coronavirus, Dr. de Silva said, adding that 80% of pregnant women who contracted COVID-19 were asymptomatic and out of the 20% who show symptoms, 5% needed specialized attention.

“We need about 50 – 200 high-dependency unit (HDU) beds per district, based on the population, 10 – 50 high flow oxygen machines per district, four to 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 one pregnant woman passed away on Wednesday due to complications from SARS-CoV-2 and that she has been suffering from a number of Non communicable diseases.

However, 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 dedicated to pregnant women with COVID-19. The hospital, which has the largest ward dedicated to COVID-19 infected pregnant women, didn’t have any HDU or ICU beds dedicated to them, Dr. Dewolage said.

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

Meanwhile Dr Sanath Lanerolle, Senior Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Castle Street Hospital for Women said that pregnant women should be extremely careful of coronavirus. While most women in their first trimester usually recover from SARS-CoV-2 without any side effects to the mother and child, those in later trimesters can face many complications.

“If a pregnant woman has conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, etc, if she is obese or over 35, there is a higher risk of complications. If possible pregnant women must work from home, talk to your employer, and try to figure out an arrangement,” he said.

He added that several pregnant women with SARS-CoV-2 have been found at the latest wave and that these women show more symptoms. “This is the result of the new variant.

Deputy Director General – Public Health Services Dr. Susie Perera said that they had excluded pregnant women from vaccination so far. Even frontline health staff members who were pregnant were not given the jab. However, given the latest research and the events that are unfolding in Sri Lanka, the Ministry had commenced a discussion on vaccinating pregnant women, she said.



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman




Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand




At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night



President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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