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SL second in Covid-19 prevention measures, economic recovery…

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Sri Lanka has been ranked second in terms of Covid-19 pandemic prevention measures, economic recovery and international cooperation among 108 countries, according to a survey by YICAI Research Institute, a well-known Chinese financial think tank.

The report released on September 22, is the highest international recognition so far for Sri Lanka in fighting the coronavirus.

Nine out of the top 10 countries were in the Asia-Pacific region namely China, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Myanmar, Australia, Thailand, New Zealand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Ghana from Africa ranked third. Denmark and Germany performed best among European countries, ranked 21st and 23rd.

“Brazil and the US, both countries with leaders who initially downplayed the problem and with lower levels of co-operation by the public respectively are ranked 89th and 98th. Sweden, which opted for the controversial policy of herd immunity, came in at number 90,” the report said.

The Institute used the SEIR epidemiological model to predict the state of the pandemic in different nations, classing them as Susceptible, Exposed, Infectious or Removed, as well as its own self-developed “social network-based virus transmission model”. The evaluation system including 23 detailed indicators had made quantitative evaluation of the performance of 108 countries in the war against COVID-19.

Countries with strict epidemic prevention policies, such as China, Sri Lanka, South Korea and Italy, all had the pandemic under control in recent months, the models showed, which based their calculations on earlier disease trajectories and with the assumption that asymptomatic cases continued to be present.

“Until an effective vaccine is widely available, the novel coronavirus will co-exist with humans. Effective governance that responds quickly using technological means and which can depend on public support is an effective strategy to deal with the pandemic,” the report said.

YICAI Research Institute is part of the China’s largest financial media conglomerate Yicai Media Group (“Yicai” is the Pinyin abbreviation of its official Chinese name, meaning first and best in financial and business media). Founded in July 2003, Yicai employs a team of 1,000 journalists and professionals specializing in finance and economics and runs over ten overseas stations, sending real-time financial and economic news coverage back to its headquarter from New York, Singapore, Tokyo, London, Paris etc., around the world. In 2015, e-commerce tycoon Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group took a 30 percent stake in Yicai.

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Majority of 300 luxury vehicles to be released

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… some shipped in without opening LCs, EU wants restrictions abolished

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The majority of the luxury vehicles imported by special permit holders in contravention of the import ban imposed by the government in view of precarious economic situation caused by corona first wave are likely to be released subject to penalties.

Well informed sources said that those vehicles shipped in without even opening LCs would be released. Among the violators were many government servants.

Sources said that vehicles brought in without opening LCs were likely to be confiscated.

“We have categorised over 300 vehicles, including BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Audis into two groups. Customs are now in the process of evaluating individual cases,” a high ranking state official said.

The government announced a ban on vehicle imports to arrest the depletion of foreign reserves. Sources acknowledged that at the time the vehicles

arrived in Sri Lanka the second corona wave hadn’t erupted. The situation was far worse now and further deteriorating, they said, adding that the Customs were being inundated with requests for releasing vehicles on sympathetic grounds.

Controversy surrounds the failure on the part of the government to strictly implement the import ban in view of the sharp drop in state revenue due to the pandemic.

Recently, the EU demanded that Sri Lanka immediately lift import ban or face the consequences. The EU issued the warning in talks with government representatives. Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena explained the circumstances that compelled the government to impose import restrictions. The EU sought an explanation as to when the ban would be lifted. The Foreign Ministry quoted Foreign Minister Gunawardena as having explained to the EU the challenges Sri Lanka economy was facing amidst the dwindling foreign currency reserve situation due to the significant reduction in remittances and tourism revenue induced by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The minister said that the import restrictions were being reviewed.

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Nearly 74,000 persons under home quarantine

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Close to 74,000 people belonging to 27,974 families had been placed under home quarantine, Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said on Wednesday (25).

He said that the number of cases from the Minuwangoda and Peliyagoda clusters had increased to 17,436 with 458 persons had tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

Two wards of the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital, Panadura were temporarily closed on Wednesday after two pregnant women admitted there tested COVID-19 positive.

The two women are from Atalugama, which has been declared an isolated area. During the last few days close to half of the COVID-19 patients detected in Colombo District are from Atalugama.

The two women have been sent to Neville Fernando Hospital, Malabe. The patients and staff in Wards 3 and 4 at the Kethumathi Maternity Hospital are now under quarantine. Their family members too have been asked to undergone self-quarantine.

The Police had arrested 61 persons who had violated quarantine laws within the 24 hours that ended at 8 am yesterday, Police spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana said, adding that they had been arrested for not wearing masks or for not maintaining physical distancing. With those altogether 688 persons had been arrested for violating quarantine laws from October 30, he said.

Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya said that apart from Welikada, the spread of COVID-19 had been controlled at other prisons. COVID-19 cases had been reported from six prisons, he added.

“We are conducting PCR tests and hope that the situation in Welikada too would be brought under control. Twenty four new cases were detected from prisons on November 24 and from October 04, we have identified 708 cases within the prison system.”

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Severity of impact of second wave on economy could be far worse than anticipated – CBSL

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By Shyam Nuwan Ganewatte

The impact of the second wave of COVID-19 could be severer on the economic growth than previously anticipated, Director of Economic Research at the Central Bank Dr. Chandranath Amarasekara said yesterday (26).

Dr. Amarasekera said so responding to a query by The Island at a CBSL media briefing. The top official said that an assessment couldn’t be made yet as the second wave was continuing.

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