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Tuesday May 21st, 2024

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 declares May 21 as National Mourning day over Iranian President’s death

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka declared a national mourning day on Tuesday, May 21 in view of expressing its solidarity with Iran after sudden death of Iran President Ebrahim Raisi following a helicopter crash.

President Raisi and eight others including Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian were killed in the crash when the helicopter had a “hard landing” reportedly due to adverse weather conditions with heavy fog. However, President’s two convoy helicopters reached the destination safely.

“The Sri Lankan government has declared a national mourning day on tomorrow (May 21) on behalf of the sudden death of Iranian president Mr. Ebrahim Raisi,” the Department of Government Information said in a statement.

It also urged all the state institutions have to hoist the national flag half mast.

Raisi was in Sri Lanka on April 24 to launch the Uma Oya dam on a one-day official visit amid tight security. His helicopter crashed when he was returning to Iran after launching a dam in the Azerbaijan border.

President Raisi is seen as a hardliner and a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Earlier this month, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said the island nation will deal with Iran for investments and trade without being caught into the United States-led sanctions.

Sri Lanka was unable to receive $450 million from Iran for a recently opened Uma Oya multipurpose project started before the sanctions.

Sri Lanka now exports tea to Iran for no dollar payment. Instead, Sri Lanka tea producers are paid by the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) in rupees for the pending crude oil import payments for Iran.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed his condolences on the tragic incident.

“Sri Lanka is deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic death of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian and other senior Irani official,” he said in his official X-platform.

“I express my deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to the bereaved families, the government and the people of Iran.”

Raisi, a Muslim jurist, served as the eighth president of Iran from 2021 until his death. (Colombo/May 20/2024)

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Sri Lanka helps launch Global Blended Finance Alliance

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has joined a group of nations led by Indonesia which aims to mobilise capital to achieve carbon neutrality, Minister of Water Supply and Estate Infrastructure Jeevan Thondaman said.

The Global Blended Finance Alliance mooted by Indonesia in 2018, was formally launched at the World Water Forum in Bali today.

Among the other founding members are Fiji, France, UAE, Kenya, Luxembourg and Canada.

“Through our collective efforts, the Global Blended Finance Alliance aims to mobilise both public and private capital to help nations achieve carbon neutrality and the SDGs,” Thondaman said on social media platform X (twitter).

“The world has a USD 2.5 trillion funding gap to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030,” he said.

Blended finance is the strategic use of development finance, such as public and/or philanthropic funds, for the mobilisation of additional commercial finance towards sustainable development in developing countries. (Colombo/May20/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes slightly stronger at 299.60/75 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee appreciated slightly to close at 299.60/75 to the US dollar on Friday, from 299.70/80 the previous week, dealers said. Bond yields were up.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed up at 10.15/35 percent from 10.05/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed up at 10.45/55 percent from 10.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 10.80/90 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.01.2030 closed at 11.70/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.10.2032 closed up at 11.90/12.05 percent from 11.85/12.00 percent. (Colombo/May20/2024)

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