Experts insist on decisive action now to halt it in its track
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Sri Lanka was still at the early stages of the COVID wave created by the Delta variant and it had not spread to most parts of the country, Dr. Chandima Jeewandara of the Allergy, Immunology and Cell Biology Unit, Department of Immunology Molecular and Molecular Medicine of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura said yesterday.
He urged the government to take immediate action before the variant spread to other parts of the country.
“We found the Delta community spread in early June and by the end of July Delta is the most dominant variant in Colombo. Around 90% of the cases reported in Colombo are those with Delta variants. I think there are is a significant number of cases in Gampaha and in the South, but it has not spread elsewhere. For example, almost 100% the cases in
Nuwara Eliya are still the Alpha or UK variants,” he said.
Dr. Jeewandara said that the Delta variant was twice as communicable as the variant detected in Wuhan and that therefore a rapid and significant rise in cases could be seen. He said that following health guidelines like washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing were important.
“However, even if we do all this, Delta will use the slightest opportunity and infect us. Five seconds without the mask is enough for the virus to enter the body. We have to take immediate steps. We have to stop this before it spreads to other districts,” he said.
Prof. Suneth Agampodi, Founder Professor and Chair – Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, urged the government to impose a lockdown immediately.
“Doctors can save lives, but one policy decision can save more lives than all of us medical professionals combined. I implore the government to listen to professionals,” he said.
Prof. Agampodi also said Sri Lanka was at the beginning of the spread of the Delta variant and that it would take five to six weeks for the infections to peak. Commenting on the predictions on Sri Lanka made by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington; Prof. Agampodi said that IHME data was highly respected around the world.
“In May, IHME predicted that there could be 200 to 300 deaths a day in Sri Lanka. The IHME model is reliable. What people need to understand is that the predictions are based on trends at the moment data is entered into the model. However, as people and governments react things change. In May, we took the IHME data, and we used the data into a model we created. We predicted that there will be 47 to 57 deaths a day because of how we will react, and our numbers came true,” he said.
Prof. Agampodi said that at the start of August, they predicted that between 100 and 150 people would die a day due to COVID-19 and now our worst-case scenario was 600 deaths a day. While there would not be 600 deaths a day, Sri Lanka couldn’t stop the number hitting 200, he said.
“The reported deaths are about 120 a day now and if we don’t do anything, we will be seeing 300 deaths a day. If we take immediate action, we can stop the deaths in the 200 – 250 range,” he said.
Prof. Agampodi said that with the Delta variant, everyone in a household will contract the virus, if one person contracted it, and if the government waited a few more days the virus would spread exponentially.
“This is why we must act now. The way things are now one person can spread to four people. Also if there are 100 cases today, there will be 400 tomorrow,” he said.
Report on child protection delivered to President
The Committee appointed to Study and Make Recommendations for the Protection of Children handed over their comprehensive report to President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday (03) evening.
This committee was established on April 19, 2023, to study and provide recommendations for the protection, care and overall welfare of children who have been subjected to various forms of violence within Sri Lanka.
Over the course of nearly five months, the committee conducted 21 meetings to gain an in-depth understanding of the existing issues and to formulate practical recommendations. The committee comprised a diverse group of members, including representatives from institutions such as Children Homes, Remand Homes, Certified Homes, Child Development Centres, Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), Chambers of Commerce, Trade Unions & Associations, Principals of Schools, Civil Society Organizations, Telecommunication and Digital Service Providers, Telecommunication Regulators, Digital Crime Security Experts, Lions Club, Rotaract Club, representatives from the U.S. Embassy, Colleges of Medicine, Solicitors General from the Attorney General’s Department, National Child Protection Authority, National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol, Family Health Bureau, Foreign Employment Bureau, Sri Lanka Women’s’ Bureau and officials from the Ministries in charge of Women & Children and Education.
The report, which was completed and submitted to the President yesterday, addresses a wide range of issues concerning child protection, including issues related to institutionalized environments, lack of parental care, family separation, digital media exposure, child labour and more. The committee also evaluated the adequacy of existing institutional, administrative and legal safeguards for child protection, aiming to meet the demands of modern society.
Furthermore, the report explores strategies to enhance the physical and mental health of children who have experienced various forms of violence, abuse and neglect. It also delves into the concerning trend of children engaging in violent acts and seeks innovative approaches for community participation in child care initiatives
Landslide Early Warnings Issued to Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Matara and Ratnapura Districts extended
The landslide early warnings issued by the landslide early warning center of the National Building Research Organisation to the districts of Colombo, Galle, Hambantota, Kalutara, Kandy, Kegalle, Matara and Ratnapura Districts have been extended untill 1630 hrs today.
Level II landslid early warnings have been issued to the Divisional Secretaries Divisions and surrounding areas of Neluwa in the Galle district, Ingiriya in the Kalutara district, Pasbage Korale in the Kandy district, Kotapola and Pitabeddara in the Matara district, Ayagama, Kuruwita, Pelmadulla, Nivithigala, Kiriella, Ratnapura, Elapatha, Eheliyagoda and Kalawana in the Ratnapura district.
Level I landslide early warnings have been issued to the Divisional Secretaries Divisions and surrounding areas of Seethawaka in the Colombo district, Elpitiya in the Galle district, Walasmulla in the Hambanthota district, Mathugama, Buathsinhala, Aggalawaththa and Walallawita in the Kalutara district, Yatiyanthota, Kegalle and Dehiowita in the Kegalle district, Athureliya and Mulatiyana in the Matara district and Imbulpe and Kolonna in the Ratnapura district
Opposition: Judge’s resignation has tarnished Lanka’s image
He should have taken action against those who threatened him – govt.
By Saman Indrajith
Opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday that there were serious questions and concerns about the independence of the judiciary following the resignation of Mullaitivu District Judge T. Saravanarajah, citing threats and harassment.
“This is a serious issue and the government should conduct an independent inquiry into this matter immediately,” Premadasa said.
Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella said the judge’s resignation, citing threats and harassment following his ruling on the Kurundimalai temple, had led to concerns about the independence of the judiciary. He said that the Mullaitivu Magistrate had been pressured to change his judgment.
Justice Minister,Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said Sri Lankan judges had power to issue summons and take appropriate action against individuals who attempted to exert influence over them. He asked why the judge concerned had not used his powers.
Minister Rajapakshe said that the Opposition could file a contempt of court case if anyone had pressured the Mullaitivu Magistrate to reverse his judgment as claimed, without levelling allegations against the government.
The Minister said the government had no powers to investigate the matter involving the Magistrate and that the JSC was the relevant body to handle the matter and requested if anyone had any issue, they could complain to the Judicial Service Commission.
TNA MP Sumanthiran said that the whole world knew that there was pressure on the Judge. “The Minister cannot claim that there was no pressure on the judge.”
Minister Rajapakshe said that if there was anyone in the House who had exerted pressure on the judiciary it was MP Sumanthiran. He said MP Sumanthiran had on 20 October, 2022 told Parliament that the judges of the Supreme Court should be sent home. “You said in this House that people had no faith in the Supreme Court.”
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