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Prof. Malavige explains why even Singapore down with Indian variant



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Prof. Neelika Malavige of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Sciences of the Sri Jayewardenepura University yesterday said only those engaged in providing essential services should be allowed to travel.

Employees should not be allowed to eat together, Prof. Malavige said. “You take masks off when you eat. If a group of people sit together and eat, all the precautions taken during the rest of the day will be in vain. Every country that has successfully controlled the spread, has adopted such measures.”

Prof. Malavige said the new variants were more infectious and could remain in the air longer in enclosed, especially air conditioned, environments.

“The virus is spread by droplets. If someone in an enclosed area coughs and emits droplets into the air. This can remain airborne for some time and can infect another. However, the distance that the droplets can travel is a metre. This would not be a problem at all if you are in a ventilated area or in open spaces,” she said.

“Vaccination is not the final solution to the pandemic”, Prof. Malavige said, adding that Singapore was currently under a lockdown because its airport staff, who had received both doses of Pfizer vaccine had contracted the Indian variant of COVID-19.

“They were asymptomatic cases, but infected their families, who spread it in the community,” she said, adding that vaccination was vital to ensure one’s personal safety but those who were vaccinated could contract the virus and spread it among others. She also said that it took several weeks after vaccination for people to develop immunity and therefore people should not lower their guard. “To develop some immunity after the AstraZeneca vaccine, it takes about 21 days after the first dose. However, you need to take the second dose for improved protection. You need two weeks after taking the second dose of Sinopharm to develop immunity. We have to be careful.”

Prof. Malavige said that Covid-19, like any other viral disease, had a significant effect on pregnant women, several of whom had died due to dengue, she noted.

“Any viral disease, be it chickenpox, influenza or dengue affects pregnant women. They must be careful.”

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MP’s wife, father-in-law among three detained



Rishad held under PTA to be questioned

16-year-old girl’s death:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Police investigating the death of 16-year-old Ishalini, the domestic servant at All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader Rishad Bathiudeen’s Baudhaloka Mawatha residence have arrested Ayesha Shiabdeen, 46, the wife of the former minister.

Police also took into custody Rishad’s father-in-law Mohammed Shiabdeen, 70, and Ponnaiah Pandaram alias Shankar, 64, a resident of Dayagama.

Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said that Shankar had brought Ilashini from Dayagama to the Baudhaloka Mawatha residence of Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Vanni District lawmaker late last year.

Having studied the post postmortem report, they were taken into custody in terms of Section 360 C and Section 308 B of the Penal Code that dealt with human trafficking and cruelty to children, the top police officer said. According to him, so far 20 statements had been recorded.

Asked whether MP Bathiudeen, too, had been among the questioned, Senior DIG Rohana said the parliamentarian detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) over 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, too, would be interrogated in that regard.

The ACMC contested the last general election on the SJB ticket. It switched its allegiance to the SJB ahead of 2020 general election after having represented the cabinet in UNP led yahapalana administration. Rishad has also served President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cabinet during his second term.

Having suffered serious burn injuries on July 3 at the MP’s residence and admitted to the National Hospital, Illashini succumbed to her injuries on July 15th. Medical examination revealed that she had been raped over a period of time.

The police spokesman said that they intended to secure court approval to detain the suspects for 72 hours. A Superintendent of Police could obtain such approval on the strength of a B report submitted to the court in respect of offenses on children.

Although, the police indicated earlier in the day they would be produced in Colombo Magistrate court they weren’t brought in.

Meanwhile, the SJB said that interested parties were making a despicable attempt to politicize the incident. The police should be allowed to conduct the investigation without interference, a spokesman for the main Opposition party said.


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Women’s organisations in North conduct protests demanding justice for Ilashini



A section of those engaged in Jaffna protests


By Dinasena Ratugamage

Women’s organisations in the North yesterday held a number of demonstrations in Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Jaffna against the death of J. Ilashini, the 16 -year-old girl who died while working at SJB MP Rishad Bathiudeen’s residence.

The protesters urged authorities to ensure that investigations into the death are conducted in a transparent manner. The family of the victim should be compensated and those guilty punished, they said.

Representatives of the organisations said that if justice was not done, they would hold a massive demonstration in Tarapuram, Mannar, which Bathiudeen represents in Parliament.

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Dancer lodges complaint with police over FB post 



Police headquarters yesterday (23) said that dancer Anusha Damayanthi had lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over a Facebook post alleging that she was running a brothel.

Police headquarters said that Damayanthi, while denying the accusation, had also brought to the CID’s notice that a minister was being accused of lambasting the Walana anti-crime strike force for carrying out the raid. Police said that an investigation was underway.

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