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Situation in Western province improves with dip in positive cases



Covid-19 under control:

by Suresh Perera

The Covid-19 pandemic in the Western province is now under control with small but manageable clusters emerging from time to time which is inevitable in a situation where society is ‘open’ with people getting about their day-to-day chores, a senior health official said.

The number of positive Coronavirus cases have dipped to a daily average of around 500 with the Western province contributing only about 20% to 30% to the overall figure, says Dr. Hemantha Herath, Deputy Director of Public Health Services.

With figures relating to positive cases now static, there’s an improvement in the situation in the province.

However, this does not mean there’s no room for fresh clusters to surface as the spread of the virus is being fought sans a lockdown in the country, he noted.

“Though ‘positive’ cases remain static, it is still too early to say how the transmission pattern will play out because people continue to move about without any restrictions”, Dr. Herath outlined.

He said the small clusters which surfaced one or two months ago have now been controlled. “The crux of the matter is that we have been able to bring the situation under control in the Western province”.

With ‘positive’ numbers spiking in Colombo earlier, public health officers were struggling to arrest the growing trend of transmission of the virus, but now the situation is under control, the senior medical official said.

With the spread of the deadly virus largely declining, the lockdown imposed on many areas of Colombo have been lifted. The latest area where restrictions were eased last week was Kotahena (Colombo 13).

However, though the lockdown in Maradana (Colombo 10) was lifted, restrictions are still in place at the Maligawatte Housing Scheme.

“We have been under lockdown since November 9”, a resident said.

Though it was announced that the lockdown was lifted, the police continue to disallow people to venture out of the housing complex until the process of PCR screening is completed, he said.

“One member of each family has been asked to report to the Maligawatte police station to undergo PCR tests”, he added.

Dr. Herath said that areas considered ‘vulnerable’ and ‘high risk’ have to be cleared before the lockdown is eased to prevent infected persons posing a threat to people in other areas.

“We are doing it on a step-by-step basis”, he added.


Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?



… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.



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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others



The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.



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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area



Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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