An Echelon Media Company
Tuesday December 5th, 2023

Brandix workers probably got Covid from a foreign source – Minister

State Minister Dr Sudharshini Fernandopulle gets her appointment from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa/PMD handout

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s Minister tasked with dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic Dr Sudharshini Fernandopulle believes that staff at the Minuwangoda Brandix factory were infected with the virus by someone who came from overseas.

Fernandopulle, whose formal title is State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemiology and Coronavirus Disease Control, said probes “conducted from different angles” led the authorities to feel the strongest assumption was that the virus was transmitted from a person who was a visitor.

She was responding to a question raised by Opposition MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

Fernandopulle said further investigations revealed that a Ukrainian aircrew member who was accommodated in the Seeduwa Ramada hotel was infected with the virus while several staff members of the hotel also caught the bug.

“It was observed that the staff members of the hotel had several connections with the workers at the Brandix factory in Minuwangoda, so to a great extent, it can be assumed that’s how the virus got inside the factory,” she said.

Further, she said the analysis of the virus done at the Sri Jayewardenepura University by Prof Neelika Malavige revealed that the COVID-19 virus strain that spread from the Brandix factory across the country since October is different from the previous strain observed in the country and similar to a strain found in Europe.

She added that it was also a factor for the deduction made about the Ukrainian aircrew member.

More than 23,000 Covid positive cases in Sri Lanka has been traced to the cluster surrounding the factory which the Epidemiologists are calling the Minuwangoda-Peliyagoda cluster.

Joining the debate, Minister of Public Security retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara said detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) trying to find the source of the virus in the Brandix factory are yet to come to a final conclusion.

The investigation is being conducted as directed by the Attorney-General and has recorded over 100 statements from the infected workers.

From the statements, he said that it was revealed that some workers have kept on working in the factory taking Paracetamol tablets for the fever, in order to get the OT allowances

He added that over 20 CID officers and 70 CCD officers who were deployed for the investigations have been infected with COVID-19. (Colombo/Dec7/2020)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe

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Sri Lanka rupee closes stronger at 327.40/90 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 327.40/90 to the US dollar on Tuesday, from 328.10/30 the previous day, dealers said.

Bond yields were stable.

A bond maturing on 01.06.2025 closed at 13.60/70 percent from 13.70/14.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 closed at 13.90/14.00 percent from 13.90/14.10 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2027 closed at 14.00/15 percent from 14.00/14.10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 14.10/20 percent from 14.20/35 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed at 14.20/35 percent, from 14.25/45 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 14.10/35 percent, from 14.05/40 percent. (Colombo/Dec5/2023)

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Sri Lanka stocks close down as investor sentiment dips

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed down on Tuesday, CSE data showed.

The All Share Price Index was down 0.40 percent, or 43.50 points, at 10,700.09.

The S&P SL20 index was up 0.43 percent, or 13.32 points, at 3,054.41.

Turnover was at 711 million. The capital goods sector contributed 172 million, the food, beverage and tobacco sector contributed 140 million, and banks 113 million of this.

Top positive contributors to the ASPI in the day were John Keells Holdings Plc (up at 193.00), Richard Pieris And Company Plc (up at 19.80), and Nation Lanka Finance Plc, (up at 0.40).

Negative contributors were Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc (down at 89.70), Sampath Bank Plc (down at 71.00), and Central Finance Company Plc, (down at 106.00). (Colombo/Dec5/2023).

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Sri Lanka plans to reduce number of school grades from 13 to 12

ECONOMYNEXT – The Ministry of Education proposes to reduce the number of school grades from 13 to 12, according to a government information department statement.

“Every child will be given the opportunity to finish school in 17 years through the proposed new education reforms,” education officials were quoted as saying after a discussion on budget allocations.

Under the proposed system, pre-school education will be at the age of 4 years, the primary section between grades 1-5, junior section between grades 6-8, and senior section between grades 9-12.

The General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level Exam (GCE O/L) is proposed to be conducted in grade 10, and the Advanced Level Examination in grade 12.

It has also been decided to reduce the number of mandatory subjects at the GCE O/L Exam from 9 to 7.

Three new subjects, information and communication technology (ICT), technical and professional skills, and religion and values will be made mandatory and included in those 7 subjects. (Colombo/Dec5/2023)

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