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The Deadly Delta Wave Must Be Overcome For The Vaccine Program To Succeed Prof. Tissa Vitarana



It is with great sorrow that I write this article due to the sudden death of my friend Suresh Perera, News Editor of the Sunday Island. He was a victim of the present wave of the deadly Covid19 Delta virus which is sweeping to all parts of Sri Lanka, and the world. He was 59 years of age and at the height of his career. I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, daughter and the rest of his family and colleagues who are in a state of shock after his sudden death. Like many Sri Lankans he took little care about his safety, and had he exercised more care he would still have been with us. But the same can be said of all the other thousands who have died and are yet to die from the Delta virus.

Those who died and the many seriously ill patients who have taken up every available Intensive care unit (ICU) bed in the hospitals, and have filled the other beds, and are even forced to sleep under them were all careless. Why? Because the fact that the health rules were for their own safety had not been instilled into their minds. They treated them as Government regulations that had to be observed. On TV we have seen jostling crowds of people all wearing the masks below the chin, and immediately a policeman is sighted they cover the nose as well. A new mindset has to be developed nation wide, with a new behavior pattern, if we are to survive.

An important solution is getting immunized through vaccination. The Government, with the President and PM giving the lead, have done well to procure a maximum amount of vaccines from abroad, in the face of a heavy demand worldwide. The health and military personnel have expended their energies and done a great number of vaccinations. Unfortunately there does not appear to be a good plan and the population groups selected do not conform to any thought out risk- based priority list. There are still a significant number of over 60s to be vaccinated. The same for those with relevant co-morbidities e.g. diabetes, heart and lung disease etc. Outside this vulnerable group, there should be ‘a drop according to age’ selection process giving preference to those working in crowded locations e.g. garment factories etc.

But a problem is that both immunity after infection and after vaccination appears to be low , six months to one year. So that repeated boosters at least once a year may be required, a costly exercise. If I may suggest why not start our own Covid 19 vaccine production factory. It can save forex and also earn it. The use of mRNA vaccines ( like Pfizer and Moderna) is better avoided, as they are gene material which has not been used in the preparation of vaccine ever before. The European Union has banned the import of GM foods as they contain added or modified genetic material. That is food which gets processed in the bowel, but in the case of a vaccine there is direct injection into our tissues. Finally recipients of vaccines must be made aware of the delay in developing protection till about two weeks after the second dose.

They must not lower their guard even after that because of the large number of infected people in society and the relatively short period of immunity. The danger of more virulent and infectious variants can arise at any time and cause problems when immunity is dropping. Everyone must take the vaccine as it helps to build up herd immunity, so that with time resistance in the community to new variants will keep on increasing. But the vaccine defence of the community takes time.

But a short term solution is required for the present Delta pandemic tragedy which is going to lead to more and more severe cases with no ICU facilities available, more deaths and suffering for the people of Sri Lanka. If we have a spark of humanity left in us we must act positively to end transmission of the virus, as far as possible. At this moment the most effective action would be a LOCKDOWN for two weeks. Depending on how well this is done it will be at least be a partial success reducing the number of cases and deaths. Every day that we delay more the deaths.

The only time I met the Health Minister about seven months ago at the Health Advisory Committee I said that the virus is no longer in containable clusters. It is spreading in the community to several people mainly in the Western Province, from one unknown person to another. No traceable connections have been found. It is now a case of community spread. The two main points I made were (1) to set up a Covid Committee of Party leaders in Parliament that could interact with the Minister. They too can get to know your plans and progress. With their input it becomes a national campaign. This can be extended down to village and slum level. This Clovid committee at village level will ensure that everyone observes the four health regulations. The whole village will have to be educated on why the observance of those rules will protect each one. There are many asymptomatic cases. They will not be able to infect the others. Transmission should stop if effective. The virus will have no access to the live cells of the human respiratory tract where it takes over each cell and gets it to produce thousands of viral replicas. When that stops the virus which is unable to multiply on its own will just die out.

(2) the village Clovid Committee will besides health education and enforcement of the health rules, will spot likely cases as soon as they arise and get them seen by a doctor and PCR tested.

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GL: Suspension of IMF bailout highlights failure to meet anticipated revenue targets



Prof. G.L

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Top Opposition spokesperson Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (02) said that the government should take full responsibility for the suspension of USD 2.9 bn IMF bailout over Sri Lanka’s failure to achieve the anticipated revenue mobilisation.

The former External Affairs Minister found fault with the government for tax concessions granted to investors and the failure on its part to collect taxes, in spite of reaching an agreement with the IMF in that regard.

Referring to the declaration made by IMF delegation head Peter Breuer that the second tranche of about $330m would be delayed pending Staff-Level Agreement, Prof. Peiris pointed out that Sri Lanka and the lending agency had reached a staff-level agreement in early September last year.

Sri Lanka received the first tranche of USD 330 mn in the third week of March this year in terms of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), spread over a period of four years.

While pointing out that revenue mobilisation had improved, the IMF said revenue was expected to fall short of initial projections by nearly 15 percent by the end of this year.

Addressing the media at the Nawala Office of Nidahasa Jathika Sabhawa, Prof. Peiris said that though the government tried to put on a brave face, the consequences of the indefinite delay could be quite catastrophic. He said the suspension of the programme could undermine debt restructuring talks with external creditors, governments, lending agencies and the commercial market.

Prof. Peiris said that the suspension of the programme, just after the release of the first tranche, was a matter for serious concern as the unexpected development could cause further erosion of investors’ confidence in the Sri Lankan economy.

Sri Lanka has obtained IMF assistance on 16 occasions.

Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Economic and Physical Plans Mahindananda Aluthgamage on Sunday told The Island the country was paying a very heavy price for the failure on the part of the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise Department to collect the due taxes. Alleging that unpaid income taxes alone, over the past 15 years, amounted to a staggering Rs 904 bn, whereas revenue collecting authorities so far managed to collect Rs 1,643 bn though they were given a target of Rs. 3,101 bn for this year.

Prof. Peiris said that corruption in the public sector procurement process undermined the economic recovery process. The government defeated the Opposition moved no-confidence motion against Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella over corruption in the public health sector, Prof. Peiris said, asserting that the IMF must be aware of how the government encouraged waste, corruption, irregularities and mismanagement.

Prof. Peiris urged the government to take tangible measures to address the concerns of the IMF. Unfortunately, the government sought to deceive the public by claiming that the process was on track and would proceed following staff-level agreement, he said. He asked whether the government wanted the people to believe there would be staff-level agreements before the release of each tranche.

Prof. Peiris said that the government should correctly identify the warning issued by the IMF. It would be the responsibility of the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government to take remedial measures without further delay.

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LPBOA demands bus fare hike



By Rathindra Kuruwita  

Lanka Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA) head, Gemunu Wijeratna on Monday (02) said they needed a five percent increase in bus fares following Sunday’s diesel price hike.

On Sunday, CPC, LIOC and Sinopec increased diesel prices by 10 rupees per litre.

Wijeratna said that the private bus owners had not increased bus fares when diesel prices were increased by 35 rupees per litre recently.

“With the latest price increase, short distance buses will lose Rs 1,000 a day. Long distance buses will lose Rs 2,500 a day. We can’t lose money like this. We want at least a five percent bus fare hike,” he said.

School transport providers have decided not to increase their charges.

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Discourse on crisis in Lankan health sector at CSR



A discourse on the crisis in Sri Lankan health sector, under the theme ‘What ails the health sector? What solutions?’ is scheduled to be held at 4.00 p.m. on Thursday, 05 October 2023, at the Centre for Society & Religion (CSR) Auditorium, 281, Deans Road, Colombo 10, under the auspices of the Socialist Study Circle. The speakers will be Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Consultant Community Physician, President, Sri Lanka Medical Association, Dr. Ananda Wijewickrama, Consultant Physician, National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Ravi Kumudesh President, Academy of Health Professionals. The discourse is open to the public.

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