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

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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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Explanation sought over Monetary Board Secy.’s sudden transfer

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Rohini calls for social media campaign against govt. move

By Shamindra Ferdinando

 The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) has sought an explanation from the government over the sudden removal of the Secretary to the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, K.M.A.N. Daulagala on16 Sept.

Matale District lawmaker Rohini Kaviratne yesterday (19) questioned the rationale behind Assistant Governor Daulagala’s removal. The former UNP MP emphasised that Daulagala had played a critically important role in the Central Bank’s response in the wake of Treasury bond scams perpetrated in 2015 and 2016. Therefore, her removal was quite suspicious and might facilitate efforts to suppress those scams as well as future frauds as well.

MP Kaviratne represented the UNP during Ranil Wickremesinghe’s tenure as the Prime Minister (2015-2019).

Declaring that Daulagaha had been at the forefront of the efforts to create a clean administration, Kaviratne stressed that she was second only to Rohini Nanayakkara of the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) and earned the respect of all for courageously taking a stand against fraudulent practices.

The SJB spokesperson said that Daulagala, in her capacity as the head of the non-banking sector financial institutions, handled the ETI investigation at the onset (2010-2012) of the probe. In the wake of her recommendations pertaining to the ETI being rejected by the Central Bank, she received a transfer to another section, MP Kaviratne said.

The Monetary Board is responsible for making all policy decisions related to the management, operation and administration of the Central Bank. It comprises Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Finance Secretary S.R. Attygalle, Sanjeeva Jayawardena, PC, Dr (Mrs) Ranee Jaymaha and Samantha Kumarasinghe.

Cabraal, who served as the Governor (2006-2014) recently replaced W.D. Lakshman on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s request.

Kaviratne asked who had benefited from the removal of the Secretary to the Monetary Board?

MP Kaviratne said that Daulagala had been involved in the internal process following the first Treasury bond scam and the subsequent developments, including the coordination between the Central Bank and the Attorney General’s Department pertaining to the Treasury bond scams. Urging women’s organsations, civil society and law abiding citizens to take up Daulagala’s removal through social media, lawmaker Kaviratne said that the issue at hand should receive attention of the parliament.

“The Parliament is responsible for public finance. The Parliament cannot turn a blind eye to what is going on in the Central Bank. The national economy is in such a perilous state every effort should be made to investigate past frauds and thwart future adventures,” the MP said.

MP Kaviratne also recalled the role played by Deepa Seneviratne, Superintendent of Public Debt at the time of the first Treasury bond scam in exposing the then Governor’s culpability. “Unfortunately, we seem to be unable to change the direction regardless of exposure of past misdeeds,” she said.

Declaring that she had no intention of protecting any wrongdoer under any circumstances, MP Kaviratne said that the incumbent government should ensure transparency and accountability in public finance.

Examination of COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises), COPA (Committee on Public Accounts) and COPF (Committee on Public Finance) proceedings revealed a frightening picture, lawmaker Kaviratne said. Shocking revelations made by the watchdog committee should be examined against the backdrop of overall deterioration of the national economy over the past several years, the MP said.

She said that it would be a grave mistake on the government’s part to blame the current crisis on the raging Covid-19 epidemic. Acknowledging the difficulties caused by the economic downturn, MP Kaviratne said that the country was paying a huge price for unbridled waste, corruption, irregularities and negligence.

The MP asserted that the citizenry could play a bigger role in a political campaign on social media. The vast majority of those who use social media strengthened democratic opposition, she said. Removal of Daulagala could be a rallying point, she said, urging public onslaught on the SLPP government.

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Those responsible for Easter carnage will be haunted eternally – Bishop Galle

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Text and pictures by PRIYAN DE SILVA

The Chief Celebrant of the 114th annual feast of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Matara, Bishop of the Diocese of Galle, Rev. Dr. Raymond Wickremasinghe told a virtual congregation that the conscience of those responsible for the Easter Sunday carnage would never be at peace and it would haunt them eternally.

 The celebrations of the 114th annual Feast of the National shrine of Our Lady of Matara commenced on 05 September with the raising of the flagstaff and ended on Sunday 12 September. This year’s feast was held in keeping with strict health guidelines sans public participation.

 Rev Dr. Wickremasinghe reiterated that it was the wish of the general public, especially all Christians that those who carried out and those masterminded and those who knew but did not prevent the Easter Sunday carnage would be exposed and Justice served. “It is our prayer that the divine father guides the authorities in their endeavours” the Bishop added

 Rev. Wickremesinghe also called upon every person including decision-makers to heed the advice of the experts and act intelligently to overcome the pandemic.

 The Marian procession carrying the miraculous statue of our lady of Matara. accompanied by clergy and security personnel paraded the town, concluding this year’s festivities.

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Wild jumbos destroy houses in search of newly harvested paddy

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BY CYRIL WIMALASURENDRE

KANDY— Herds of wild elephants raid Ududumbara and Minipe area sdestroying houses in search of newly harvested paddy.

Farmers of Minipe, Hasalaka and Udadumbara keep paddy in their houses as they are without proper storage facilities.

Kandy District Secretary Chandana Tennakoon visited the house of a farmer destroyed by elepheants in Kongahaela, Hasalaka.

The victim informed the District Secretary Tennakoon that a herd of elephants including young ones were roaming had attacked his house.

Similar complaints were made to the District Secretary by farmers at Minipe, Hasalaka, Welgala, Ulpathagama and Udunuwara.

The farmers said at least they should be provided with an adequate number of elephant crackers to scare the elephants away. The farmers had to travel about 30 km to the Randenigala Wildlife Office office to receive one cracker each, they said, adding that they needed many more.

District secretary Tennakoon told the farmers that steps would be taken to resolve the issue this year by putting up an elephant  fence around the affected villages of Ududumbara, Medsadumbara, Minipe and Hasalaka sector.

The project would cost about Rs. 100 million. The length of the fence would be about 43 km, he said.

Divisional Secretary of Minipe Nuwan Hemachandra and Deputy Director of Plan Implementation Palitha Rajapakse were present.

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