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Sri Lanka has lost grip of the situation – PHIs

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Sri Lanka was no longer capable of carrying out random sampling which helped identify clusters at an early stage during the first and second wave of the pandemic, Public Health Inspectors’ Union head, Upul Rohana said yesterday.

Rohana said the country could only test about 26, 000 PCR samples a day and most of that capacity was used up to test the first-rung associates of COVID-19 cases.

“There were over 3,600 COVID-19 positive cases on Wednesday. Imagine how many first-rung associates they had? And what about the first-rung associates of the first-rung associates of confirmed cases? Right now, we cannot quarantine these people. We have to wait till we get PCR reports of first-rung associates of confirmed cases to quarantine their associates.”

Rohana said that on average it took four to nine days for a PCR test report to be issued and by that time many potentially positive persons were freely mingling in society. Thus, the number of actual COVID-19 cases could be what was reported, he said.

“During the first wave, we overreacted and that was good. We pursued potential cases and dismantled clusters before they exploded. However, we just do not have the capacity to do this now,” he said.

Given the circumstances, the best thing that could be done was to restrict the movement of all Sri Lankans until the authorities could get a grip of the situation, Rohana said, adding that unlike in the first and second waves of the pandemic, some private laboratories were not sharing PCR test results with the government.

“This is a punishable crime under the Quarantine Ordinance. Because of this, some people infected with the coronavirus are staying at home. On the other hand, we must admit that people have unpleasant experience at treatment centres,” he said.

Rohana said that although the number of COVID-19 cases had dropped around 2021 March, the PHIs had seen some disturbing signs and warned the Health Ministry that all was not well. For example there were clusters being reported in work places and factories.

“When the Sinhala and Tamil New year season started we urged caution. We saw that people had started celebrating even by 06 April. People went on trips and went shopping. In most clothing shops there were infections among employees. There were a person or two in most of the groups that went on trips. As we noted, COVID-19 was in factories and during the vacation; these workers went home and mingled with their friends. Now, we are seeing the results.”

 

 

 



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Avishka and Sadeera power Jaffna Kings to nine wicket win

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Half tons by Avishka Fernando and Sadeera Samarawickrema powered Jaffna Kings to a nine wicket win over Dambulla Aura in the 3rd match of the LPL2022  at MRICS Hambanthota on Wednesday (07)

Dambulla Aura 121/9 in 20 overs (Jordan Cox 43; Maheesh Theekshana 3/20, Vijayakanth Vijaskanth 3/24, James Fuller 2/16, Zaman Khan 1/28)

Jaffna Kings 122/1 in 15.4 overs (Avishka Fernando 51 , Sadeera Samarawickrema 62 not out; Noor Ahamed 1/28)

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Govt. says selling state assets only way to build reserves and prevent crippling shortages

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardena yesterday (06) said Sri Lanka wouldn’t be in a position to be part of the international trading system unless it boosted its foreign reserves by selling some of its assets. Gunawardena, who also holds media and transport portfolios said so at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.

Responding to a query about the government’s decision to divest vital national assets, the Minister said that if Sri Lanka did not shore up its reserves to the tune of over three billion dollars, international companies would not accept the letters of credit given by Sri Lankan banks.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as the Finance Minister, has proposed privatising of several state enterprises including Sri Lanka Insurance and Sri Lanka Telecom.

“Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga sold a number of state owned enterprises. If we don’t increase our reserves, to over three billion USD soon, we will have problems importing fuel, and other essential items. Last week, Fitch again reduced our rating. No matter who governs Sri Lanka, they will all face the same problem. We need to build our reserves,” the Minister said.

Minister Gunawardane said that the need of the hour was to sell some assets and boost Sri Lanka’s reserves.

“China, India, Vietnam, and Malaysia are attracting a lot of investors. Only we have failed to do so, and we need to think why this is. Even our entrepreneurs are leaving for other countries. We need to change the way we think, if we want to attract investors to Sri Lanka,” he said.

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Ven Siridhamma, Mudalige granted bail; latter re-arrested

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Convenor of Bhikku Balamandalaya affiliated Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera leaving Court yesterday (06) after Kaduwela Magistrate Chanima Wijebandara granted him bail. The Thera was held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for causing damages to public property during a protest opposite the Education Ministry, over three months back. The Magistrate ordered the Thera released after the police failed to identify the monk at an identification parade. However, IUSF Convenor Wasanatha Mudalige, who was also released by the Magistrate, after the police couldn’t identify him, was taken into custody in connection with some other case.

Pics by Kamal Bogoda

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