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Tuesday May 21st, 2024

Creeping vaccine hesitancy in Sri Lanka: authorities blame organised campaign

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s health authorities suspect an organised misinformation campaign is behind an unusual increase in vaccine hesitancy among the country’s youth, a health official said.

Deputy Health Services Director Dr Hemantha Herath told reporters on Tuesday (28) that a decline has been noted in vaccination of young people owing to misconceptions about side effects of COVID-19 vaccines.

“There is a lot of misconceptions. I think there’s an organised minsinformation campaign of side effects of the vaccine, which has resulted in some decline in vaccination.

“We ask the youth to go to the nearest vaccination centre and get the vaccine available there because we might have to limit vaccination for certain age groups in future rollouts,” he said.

The official’s statement comes a day after Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella revealed plans for a possible vaccine mandate for Sri Lanka.

Speaking to reporters in Kandy on Sunday (26), Rambukwella said if the need arises, the government may discuss a legal framework for such a mandate with the advice of health experts.

Related: Sri Lanka may consider vaccine mandate if situation demands it: health minister

“Just as one has a right to one’s own life, there is a problem if one opposes decisions that will prevent someone else being infected. So we might have to take a decision, in the event of [a vaccine mandate] becomnig essential,” he said.

Though Sri Lanka’s vaccine rollout has been largely successful despite delays, authorities have expressed concern over a disturbing reluctance among the country’s youth to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

As of September 27, only 48 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20-29 age group have received at least one dose of a vaccine, while only 12.7 percent are fully vaccinated.

Mainstream and social media reports indicate that vaccine centres dedicated to youth are not as full as they should be. Young people also seem to show a preference for vaccines such as Pfizer-BionTech over the Chinese Sinopharm jab which is Sri Lanka’s most widely used COVID-19 vaccine to date. (Colombo/Sep28/2021)

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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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