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Wednesday June 19th, 2024

Sri Lanka Coronavirus contact tracing gaps plugged as incubation of SARS-Cov-2 suspected to top 20 days

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is quarantining all close contacts (F1) of the confirmed Coronavirus (index case or F0) and will test all quarantined persons before release amid mounting evidence that incubation of SARS-Cov-2 virus incubation may take up to 20 days or more in a minority of cases.

A Sri Lankan returnee from Italy who completed 14 days of quarantine was seen later found to have been infected with Covid-19 on April 06, around 20 days after the person arrived in the country.

Tests in Quarantine

“We will test all persons who are placed in quarantine,” the head of Sri Lanka’s Health Service Anil Jasinghe said.

“The person will be tested 7 days after quarantine and at 13 days”

Sri Lanka is also ramping up tests to screen at least 3,000 close contacts of confirmed cases, he said.

Sri Lanka has confirmed 189 cases and 44 have recovered and 7 persons have died by April 08.

Sri Lankan authorities are confident that based on procedures followed in the country, the Italian returnees could not have got infected inside the quarantine centre.

Sri Lanka has urged all released quarantine persons to self quarantine for another 14 days just in case the incubation was longer than advised by the World Health Organization.

“It is very important that 14 days home quarantine be followed,” Sri Lanka’s Army Chief Shavendra Silva said on April 06.

“This person seems to have developed the disease about 7 to 8 days after release.”

Reliable information on Covid-19 is still not available as initial information came from China, where authorities found the disease only as serious pneumonia cases turned up and as the disease spread like wildfire public services collapsed and bodies piled up at crematoria a few weeks later.

Only a few countries such as Korea, Vietnam and Sri Lanka where contact tracing has been unleashed and arrivals from China restricted or quarantined early, are health services and other authorities able to track infected persons with any degree of accuracy.

In Vietnam patient 243, a male who visited hospital in Hanoi which was exposed to Covid-19 was found with the disease about 23 days later.

Contact Quarantine

Sri Lanka is now placing all close contacts of index cases to quarantine General Silva said.

On April 05, 144 close contacts of a case in Akurana has been taken to quarantine. Akurana area itself is on lockdown and the Kandy district is on indefinite curfew as a high risk area.

Forty four close contacts of a confirmed person found in Pannipitiya had been taken to quarantine this week he said.

Fifty five close associates of an index case in Mt. Lavinia found in Ratmalana and Orugodawatte was taken to the Punani centre.

Sri Lanka is under curfew to find infected persons, who may have slipped through the contact tracing net, and may develop the disease or trigger their own cluster.

Sri Lanka’s curfew is not the same as lockdowns seen in Western nations such the US, UK or Wuhan where community transmission is already out of controls, many are dying and the separation is simply a mitigation strategy.

Authorities are hoping to ease restrictions after April 17, if no large clusters develop from any persons that have slipped through the contact tracing net.

However concerns are raised that some person with a longer incubation periods may be running loose. Sri Lanka’s police have extended curfew passes issued to so-called essential services until the end of the month.

Researchers in Vietnam where contact tracing was advanced early are testing all F1 contacts of an index case immediately. If any F1 contacts are confirmed F2 (the contacts of F1) are also tested and F3 traced in paper to be published in the the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IJTLD).

Read: Adapting a TB contact investigation strategy for COVID-19

The authors from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Hanoi, Viet Nam; Sydney School of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Australia, supported by others in Laos say at least three generations of contacts of an index has have to be traced and two tested to successfully kill community transmission.

All asymptomatic persons should be quarantined, the researchers said.

Authors T A Nguyen, Q N Cuong, A L T Kim, T N Huong, H N Nguyen, G J Fox, G B Marks, say once a patient had been identified (F0), the next generation should be tested and another two generations traced.

“First, three generations of contact (F) with COVID-19 cases should be traced to offer timely testing if the previous contact generation is found positive,” they wrote.

“This algorithm starts with the first generation (F1) who are close contacts of the index case (F0).

“All F1 contacts should be tested for SARS-CoV-2 regardless of symptom presentation.

“F1 individuals who are asymptomatic or have two negative tests 24 hours apart should be quarantined for 14 days.”

Vietnam is also doing wider testing of suspected high risk areas. Up to April 09 Vietnam has done 109,000 tests.

There have been no deaths, but five person are in serious condition, including a Vietnamese airlines pilot who is a British national who has been placed on a external blood oxygenation machine.

Against the trend

Sri Lanka, Korea and Vietnam are among countries that are aggressively hunting Wave II infections after successfully containing Wave I from China.

Sri Lanka and Vietnam are among countries that controlled arrivals from China or quarantined ‘healthy’ travellers against the advice from the World Health Organization at the time.


WHO says ‘no reason’ to close borders with China, quarantine healthy travelers

Closing borders could allow China virus to spread faster: WHO

Sri Lanka, Vietnam in Coronavirus battle of wits to bust the COVID-19 bug

Vietnam has engaged in surgical lockdowns and kept the economy ticking, though inter-provincial travel is being tightened.

Vietnam also quarantined ‘healthy’ arrivals from China going against WHO general advice from early on and extended it to other foreigners and Vietnamese citizens during Wave II.

Most of the worst respiratory viral pandemics in the last century have come from China.

The Asian Flu of 1957 to 1958 which is estimated to have killed between 1 to 4 million people worldwide according to UK’s Health Department data, originated in Southern China.

The Hong Kong flu of 1968 to 1969 also from Southern China is estimated to have killed between 1 – 4 million people and 80,000 in the UK.

The 2009-2020 Swine Flu from Mexico is believed to have killed over 18,000 people worldwide.
The Spanish flu of 1918-1919 is estimated to have killed up to 50 million people worldwide.(Colombo/Apr09/2020)

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Central banks expect to increase gold reserves after buying 1,037 tonnes in 2023: Survey

ECONOMYNEXT – About 29 percent of central banks in the world intended to increase their gold reserves in 2023, up from 24 percent in 2023 and just 8 percent in 2019, a survey by the World Gold Council showed.

“The planned purchases are chiefly motivated by a desire to rebalance to a more preferred strategic level of gold holdings, domestic gold production, and financial market concerns including higher crisis risks and rising inflation,” the WGC said.

About 81 percent of 70 central banks that responded to the survey expected global central bank holdings of gold to go up, from 71 percent in 2023.

While in prior years, gold’s “historical position” was the top reason for central banks to hold gold, this factor dropped significantly to number five this year.

This year, the top reason for central banks to hold gold is “long-term store of value / inflation hedge” (88%), followed by “performance during times of crisis” (82%), “effective portfolio diversifier” (75%) and “no default risk” (72%).

Concerns about sanctions were listed as by 23 percent of emerging market central banks (0 advanced).

De-dollarization as a reason to hold gold gained ground, but was not among the main reasons.

About 13 percent of emerging market central banks listed de-dollarization as one of the reasons to buy gold up from 11 percent last year and 6 advanced nations said the same from zero last year.

Around 49 percent of central banks expected gold reserves to be moderately lower five year from now in the 2024 survey, against 49 percent in 2023 and 38 percent in 2022.

About 13 percent of central banks surveyed said US dollar reserves would be significantly lower in the 2024 survey, up from 5 percent in 2023 and 4 percent in 2022. (Colombo/June18/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes weaker at 304.75/305.40 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed weaker at 304.75/305.40 to the US dollar Tuesday, down from 304.15 to the US dollar Friday, dealer said, while some bond yields edged up.

Sri Lanka’s rupee has weakened amid unsterilized excess liquidity from earlier dollar purchases.

Excess liquidity fell from as high as 200 billion rupees, helped by some sales of maturing bills and also allowing some term contracts to run out.

However the central bank has started to inject liquidity again below its policy rate to suppress interest rates.

On Tuesday 30 billion rupees was printed overnight at an average yield of only 8.73 percent.

Separately another 25 billion rupees was printed till June 25 at 8.09 percent to 9.05 percent, which was still below overnight the policy rate of 9.5 percent.

Nobody has so far taken the central bank to court for printing money beyond overnight at rates lower than the overnight rate.

Sri Lanka operates an ad hoc exchange rate regime called ‘flexible exchange rate’ which triggers panic among market participants, as the central bank stays away when spikes in credit either creates import demand or unsterilized credit is used up.

“If large volumes of unsterilized liquidity is left, the exchange rate has to be closely defended to prevent speculation involving early covering of import bills and late selling of exports proceeds,” EN’s economic columnist Bellwether says.

“Just as an appreciating or stable exchange rate leads to late covering of import bills, a falling rates leads to immediate covering of import bills.

“Keeping exchange rates stable is a relatively simple exercise but it is difficult to do so if short term rates are also closely targeted with printed money, as liquidity runs out, as if the country had a free float and no reserve target.”

“When there is a large volume of excess liquidity remaining (except those voluntary deposited for long periods by risk averse banks) the the interest rates structure is under-stated compared to the reported reserves.

“Interest rates would be a little higher than seen in the market if the liquidity was mopped up and domestic credit and imports were blocked to prevent the reserves from being used up.”

In East Asia there is greater knowledge of central bank operational frameworks, though International Monetary Fund driven flawed doctrine are also threatening the monetary stability of those countries, critics say.


Vietnam selling SBV bills to stabilize the Dong, as Sri Lanka rupee also weakens

Sri Lanka’s rupee started to collapse steeply after the IMF’s Second Amendment in 1978 along with many other countries as flawed operational frameworks gained ground without a credible anchor.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.10/30 percent up from 10.05/30 percent Friday.

A bond maturing on 15.10.2027 closed at 10.60/57 flat from 10.60/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2028 closed at 11.15/35 percent, up from 11.05/20 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 11.80/90 percent unchanged.

A bond maturing on 15.10.2030 closed at 11.90/12.00 percent.

A maturing on 10.12.2031 closed at 11.95/12.10 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.10.2032 closed at down at 11.95/12.10 percent, down from 12.00/10 percent. (Colombo/Jun14/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Chamber links up with Gujarat Chamber

ECONOMYNEXT – The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has signed an agreement with the Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI) to increase trade cooperation between India and Sri Lanka.

The MOU was signed by CCC CEO Buwanekabahu Perera, SGCCI President Ramesh Vaghasia, in the presence of Dr Valsan Vethody, Consul General for Sri Lanka in Mumbai, India.

“With the signing of the MoU, … the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and SGCCI aim to facilitate trade between the two countries via initiatives such as trade fairs and delegations, business networking events, training programmes,” the Ceylon Chamber said in a statement.

“This partnership will open doors for Sri Lankan businesses to explore opportunities in Surat’s dynamic market and enable the sharing of expertise and resources between the two regions.”

Established in 1940, SGCCI engages with over 12,000 members and indirect ties with more than 2,00,000 members via 150 associations. It promotes trade, commerce, and industry in South Gujarat.

The region’s commercial and economic centre Surat has risen to prominence as the global epicenter for diamond cutting and as India’s textile hub, and is ranked the world’s 4th fastest growing city with a GDP growth rate of 11.5%

Surat’s economic landscape is vibrant and diverse. As India’s 8th largest and Gujarat’s 2nd largest city, it boasts the highest average annual household income in the country.

The nearby Hazira Industrial Area hosts major corporations like Reliance, ESSAR, SHELL, and L&T. (Colombo/Jun18/2024)

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