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Thursday April 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka Covid-19 data errors due to rising case load, test reconciliation officials say

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’ COVID-19 data are accurate and responsibly compiled to avoid duplication top health officials said after their numbers were questioned after cases appeared to rise by 8,647 in a single day.

The wide use of rapid antigen tests, the same person being tested more than once by different labs or over a period, were complicating data compilation, official said.

Data provided by Sri Lanka’s Health Promotion Bureau showed the total cases as of August 20 were 381,812 and they were 373,165 on the previous day, suggesting there had been 8,647 new COVID-19 patients were detected on August 20 alone.

However the daily new positive cases showed that total detected cases on August 20 were 3,839, raising concerns over unexplained 4,808 patients included in the official data on that day.

“We always take Epidemiology Unit data base and take the same numbers,” Ranjith Batuwanthudawa, the Director of the Health Promotion Bureau of Sri Lanka, told reporters Sunday when asked about the discrepancy.

Samitha Ginige, the Acting Director of Epidemiology Unit, said the data were compiled responsibly and after verification, but the dynamics of the disease and the caseloads along with duplications have put pressure on the accuracy.

“It is impossible sometimes or it is not practical with a huge increase of case load,” Ginige told reporters when asked about the possibility of the data error.

“It’s a very complicated system. You have to understand that’s why sometimes people raise unnecessary issues about data.”

The government’s COVID-19 data has been questioned by the opposition in the parliament and some legislators have alleged that the data are manipulated to show an under estimated number of deaths and cases.

Ginige said there could be many reasons for problems with numbers.

“Sometimes there are duplications,” he said. “If one person gets positive, they also give the sample to subsequently to 2-3 other laboratories. Sometimes they are getting different results. So, we have to sort it out then and there.”

“Certain information sites which get information directly from laboratories might publish them as new case. But for us we have a responsible. At national level we have to sort it out those things.”

Th rapid antigen test and the same person being tested over a period, could be a reason for the data errors.

“With the introduction of the rapid antigen, large number of authorized laboratories as well as certain GP practices and even small-scale practices are now widely doing rapid antigen tests all over the country,” Ginige said.

“So, there are no proper mechanism to get the results. That is why you get some data differently.”

Ginige did not elaborate specifically on the August 20 data error.

Cabinet spokesman Dullas Alahapperulma last week said the newly appointed health minister KeheliyaRambukwella will look into alleged manipulation of data related to COVID-19 deaths and cases after regional data showed significant discrepancies with national data released by the health ministry.

Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 control efforts, including a speedy vaccine rollout, are carried out by a task force headed by the country’s army chief.

The opposition have raised concerns over a health crisis being handled by the military while allegedly sidelining credible health officials.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa himself in mid-June said the daily death data has been overestimated as it had included deaths occurred three months earlier.

Soon after the president’s observation, the daily death data released to the public changed.

Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 data has been used for political reason – government to brag about its achievement and the opposition to blame the government.

Health officials are struggling to disseminate the real picture with an evolving and emerging health crisis. (Colombo/Aug24/2021)

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Sri Lanka’s discussions with bondholders constructive: State finance minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan authorities continue to engage all debt restructuring negotiations in good faith, within principles of equitable treatment among creditors, and with maximum transparency within the norms of such negotiations, State Minister of Finance, Shehan Semasinghe has said.

“It is standard practice, when a representative group of bondholders is formed, to entertain confidential discussions with such group and its appointed advisors. In the case of Sri Lanka, the Ad Hoc Group of Bondholders represents holders controlling more than 50% of the bonds, which make them a privileged interlocutor for Sri Lanka,” Semasinghe said on X (twitter).

“It is well understood that given the price sensitive nature of the negotiations, and according to market regulations, discussions with the Group and its advisors are to be conducted under non-disclosure agreements. This evidently restricts the ability of the Government to unilaterally report about the substance of the discussions.

“The cleansing statement, which was issued on the 16th of April, at the conclusion of this first round of confidential discussions with members of the Group, aims at informing the Sri Lankan people, market participants and other stakeholders to this debt restructuring exercise, about the progress in negotiations. It provides the highest possible level of transparency within the internationally accepted practices in such circumstances.

“As informed in this statement, confidential discussions held in recent weeks with bondholders’ representatives proved constructive, building on the restructuring proposals presented by both parties. During the talks both sides successfully bridged a number of technical issues enabling important progress to be made. Sri Lanka articulated key remaining concerns that need to be addressed in a satisfactory manner.

“The next steps would entail further consultation with the IMF staff regarding assessments of the compatibility of the latest proposals with program parameters. Following these consultations, we hope to continue discussions with the bondholders with a view to reaching common ground ahead of the IMF board consideration of the second review of Sri Lanka’s EFF program.”

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Sri Lanka rupee weakens at 301.00/302.05 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 301.00/302.05 to the US dollar in the spot forex market on Tuesday, from 299.00/10 on Tuesday, dealers said. Bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed stable at 11.30/35 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.05 percent up from 11.95/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2028 closed at 12.10/20 percent down from 12.10/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.03.2031 closed at 12.30/50 percent. (Colombo/Apr17/2024)

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Sri Lanka Treasury Bill yields down across maturities

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Treasuries yields were down across maturities at Wednesday’s auction with the 3-month yield moving down 7 basis points to 10.03 percent, data from the state debt office showed.

The debt office sold all 30 billion rupees of 3-month bills offered.

The 6-month yield fell 5 basis points to 10.22 percent, with 25 billion rupees of bills offered and 29.98 billion rupees sold.

The 12-month yield dropped 4 basis points to 10.23 percent with 18.01 billion rupees of bills sold after offering 23 billion rupees. (Colombo/Apr17/2024)

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