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UN’s responsibility is to assist democratically elected governments – Prez tells UNGA



Global community must stand in solidarity with SL to counter terrorism

Democratically elected governments of nations understood the pulse and needs of their people the best, and it was the responsibility of the UN to assist and support processes of such elected Governments to bring about sustainable solutions for needs of their people, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in prerecorded address to the General Debate of the 75″ General Assembly on the United Nations today (23).

Sri Lanka is committed to follow a neutral foreign policy with no affiliations to any particular country or power bloc, President reiterated.

The annual session of the General Assembly commenced at the UN Headquarters in New York at 9.00 pm in Sri Lanka Time yesterday (22) using video conferencing technology.

This year’s General Session will be held under the theme of

“The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming Our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism”.

President Rajapaksa joined the Session around 4.45am local time.

Emphasizing that Sri Lanka remains deeply committed to addressing drug-related socio-economic issues President pointed out the need to enhance efforts to strengthen the prevention of drug abuse among children and youth, and ensure that educational settings are free of any harmful and addictive drugs.

Sri Lanka is extremely concerned about the increasing sophistication of the transnational criminal groups engaged in illicit manufacture and trafficking of drugs.

In order to address this, a Presidential Task Force was appointed to eradicate the drug menace, and to create a safer and a more secure country. Since its establishment, it has produced commendable results.

Sri Lanka, having experienced separatism and terrorism for nearly three decades, condemns all terrorist acts in the strongest possible terms, be it domestic or international.

In spite of its elimination from the Sri Lankan soil, the international network of this terrorist outfit remains, pushing its ruthless ideology and influencing certain Capitals to spread its baseless lies and propaganda, President pointed out.

We are hopeful that no State will tolerate activities of this international network which continues to espouse and propagate violent ideology under different guises and manifestations.

“The WHO now must seek to facilitate universal access to a COVID-19 vaccine, once developed, which should be designated as a basic public good and be affordable and obtainable by all, the Sri Lankan leader said.

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Seven infants, three mothers test positive for coronavirus at LRH



Associates of COVID-19 patients to undergo self-quarantine

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Seven infants receiving treatment at the Lady Ridegeway Hospital for Children, Colombo, and three mothers staying with them, had tested positive for COVID-19, Hospital Director Dr. G. Wijesuriya told the media yesterday.

All those were from the Peliyagoda Fish Market cluster, Dr. Wijesuriya said.

Earlier, on October 20, a two-year-old girl and her mother who had come for treatment at the Lady Ridegeway Hospital were found COVID-19 positive. Dr. Wijesuriya said that they were residents of Wellampitiya and the father of the child too had contracted COVID-19.

During the past few weeks a number of COVID-19 positive cases were found in many government hospitals and some wards had to be closed and hospital staff quarantined.

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) warned that COVID-19 infections at hospitals could severely undermine the country’s ability to battle the pandemic.

The government has also decided to quarantine the first ring associates of COVID-19 patients at thier own homes.

Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva said that this decision will be effective from yesterday. By 2 pm yesterday 3,923 COVID-19 patients were undergoing treatment at hospitals.

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COVID-19 pandemic darkens South Asia: World Bank



The COVID-19 pandemic hit South Asian nations late but hard, said a report by the World Bank released last Thursday.

The report prepared by the Office of the Chief Economist for the South Asia Region (SARCE) and the Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment (MTI) Global Practice says the pandemic is yet not under control in the region – home to nearly 2 billion people.

The crisis brought South Asia to a near standstill, the report said.

However, the report acknowledged the governments in the region took early containment measures against the pandemic.

“But not all countries were able to contain the domestic spread of COVID-19. Due to low testing, social stigma, and a young population, the actual extent of COVID-19 infections is highly uncertain, but likely much higher than recorded numbers suggest,” it said.

Besides hitting movement and economic activity, the report said the lockdown measures “triggered massive supply disruptions.”

“Information from high-frequency variables, combined in activity indicators, show an unprecedented contraction,” it added.

While the activity dropped by 40% in Pakistan in April, other countries saw a two-thirds drop.

Although the activity has recovered subsequently across the region, “it remained below pre-COVID levels in August.” All the countries witnessed contraction in GDP.

“The collapse in activity was widespread. The economic disruption is even visible from space: South Asia has darkened since March,” the report explained.

“Between March and August, nighttime light intensity declined in more than three-quarters of South Asia’s districts. In August, the average nighttime light intensity across districts was still 10% below its level a year earlier,” the study said. “Mobility declined strongly in nearly all districts, as a result both of national containment measures and local COVID-19 infections.”

Referring to the state of COVID-19 in India, the report showed there is heterogeneity across districts due to voluntary reductions in mobility due to higher local prevalence of COVID-19.

“During the national lockdown in India, districts with more recorded COVID-19 infections per capita experienced larger declines in mobility and nighttime lights.”

Although the local governments “proactively stabilized economic activity through monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and supportive financial regulation,” the report added: “The situation is fragile amid weak buffers and exhausted policy tools in some countries.”

The report also said that it is yet not clear “whether lockdowns can effectively mitigate a pandemic in countries with a large share of urban poor and densely populated cities.”

“In some cases, they may even be counterproductive.”

The report maintained that the decline in demand and supply disruptions generated by the pandemic and the policies required to contain its spread “have resulted in severe reductions in incomes in the South Asia region.”

“An effective policy response will require a clear understanding of which households and firms are most in need of assistance, and how to reach them,” it added.

“Finding ways to assist these workers will be critical to addressing the welfare losses from the pandemic.”

However, it added that the COVID-19 response “cannot only focus on supporting incomes.”

“The survival of many informal sector firms is threatened by what is hoped to be a temporary shock to their markets and access to supplies. These firms tend to be quite small and lack the savings and the financial access to keep afloat during this extended crisis,” the report added.

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NOCPCO takes stock of situation in wake of resurgence of highly contagious virus



State Minister of Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research and Innovation, Dr. Seetha Arambepola at the NOPCO meeting

The National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID- 19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) evaluating the current situation in the wake of resurgence of the highly contagious virus in the country has agreed that the strategies to prevent further spread of the virus needed constant reviewing and close cooperation between health and security officials, army said yesterday.

At a special discussion held Sunday at the NOCPCO, the task force closely reviewed the status quo of the epidemic, current developments and strategies to prevent further spread.

The task force extensively discussed the emergence of new clusters, application of emergency procedures, facilitation of first, second and third contacts to new Quarantine Centres (QCs), management of patients at hospitals and makeshift places, re-evaluation of existing strategies and their repercussions, interconnections between those approaches, etc.

State Minister of Skills Development, Vocational Education, Research and Innovation, Dr. Seetha Arambepola, Secretary to the Ministry of Health, Major General Sanjeewa Munasinghe, acting Director General of Health Services and Medical Specialist, Dr. S. Sridharan and a few more stakeholders attended the meeting chaired by the Head of NOCPCO, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva.

At the start of the proceedings, the Army Commander presented a comprehensive account of current developments and fast increase in affected-numbers while elaborating on fast changing patterns of behavior of the emergence of clusters and more positive cases.

The task force members pointed out that strategies of managing affected patients in the wake of emergence of more positive cases at district level as well as admission possibilities that should go hand in hand with quarantining practice of first and second stage contacts should be properly interconnected in order to achieve national objectives at large without causing the epidemic to spread further.

It was also suggested that areas which were of greater relevance and importance be reviewed closely in comparison with new implications in order to get the best results out of such new adoptive methods and strategic applications as relationships with intelligence, service providers, and facilitators at the actual ground level be seen against modern technological accessories available.

The members informed that it should clearly showcase the cooperation that exists between health officials and the Army. Hence, the close evaluation of first and second contacts, self-quarantining process and tracing of such contacts were very much essential in an epidemic of this magnitude.

Participants highlighted the need of such deliberations as often as possible and application of most suitable strategic approaches as and when emergency requirements arose.

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