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Sunday March 26th, 2023

Sri Lanka Covid 19: Top docs say burial of dead will not spread disease

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s College of Community Physicians (CCPSL) has made a definitive statement as to whether the remains of people who die of Covid 19 can be buried saying that there is no solid evidence indicating that burial of dead bodies would increase the spread of the disease.

The CCPSL is the apex body of Community Medicine Specialists in Sri Lanka who have post-graduate qualifications in the subject.

The statement released on its website said with “the available scientific evidence and the impact of the decision on cremation on pandemic control activities at large, CCPSL concludes that adhering to global guidelines, each citizen of Sri Lanka should be allowed to be cremated or buried as per his/her and the family’s desire within the strict guidelines recommended by the Ministry of Health.”

The statement is the first from the country’s most authoritative body on the subject adding more heft to statements by Virologists, Epidemiologists and other experts against Sri Lanka’s current policy of cremating the remains of all persons who have succumbed to the pandemic.

Sri Lanka and China are the only countries of the world enforcing compulsory cremation which goes against the religious beliefs of adherents of the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All other countries allow cremation or burial depending on the preferences of the family concerned.

In its statement, the CCPSL noted that there “are cultural implications of COVID-19 in relation to disease spread, case detection, treatment, prevention and control and also in relation to the management of dead bodies. These complex interactions may create situations which may adversely affect the pandemic control activities. The present guidelines on safe disposal of dead bodies of a person infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus in Sri Lanka have created such a situation.”

The College said that at the outset of the pandemic it accepted the government decision to cremate the corpses of all the people who died of Covid 19.

“However, the subsequent accumulation of evidence forces us to rethink and revise the recommendations. This position paper is intended to voice a scientific opinion in this debate after examining the currently available evidence,” it added.

The paper pointed out that with “more than 85,000 published scientific literature on COVID-19, not a single case has been reported due to virus transmitted through a dead body. A report published in May 2020 suggested that two forensic medicine professionals contracted COVID-19 from a corpse, but later an erratum was published by the authors that the article was not on a case of confirmed transmission of COVID-19 from the corpse. The claims on the SARS-CoV-2 spread directly through groundwater have not been scientifically substantiated and there is no indication that the virus could be transmitted through drinking water. As per the viral biology, these viruses need a host cell to survive for a long period.”

The statement also said that the principal sources and routes of potential transmission of the virus in water systems could be “hospital sewage, waste from isolation and quarantine centres, faecal-oral transmission, contaminated surface and groundwater sources and contaminated sewage, but not the dead bodies. Coronaviruses die off rapidly in wastewater within 2 to 4 days and the process is rapid in higher temperatures as in Sri Lanka.”

“COVID-19 pandemic has taught the world many lessons: one is about the importance of collective responsibility vs. individual responsibility in shaping the wellbeing of all. A proper COVID-19 control strategy has to be all-inclusive, lest, could end up in endangering the lives of all. This is the true meaning of Whole-of-Government, Whole-of-Society approach. A scientific cost-benefit evaluation is required in culturally sensitive issues which might affect the participation of some communities in disease control activities such as getting engaged in early detection, contact tracing, volunteering with correct information and in seeking healthcare,” it added. (Colombo, December 31, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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  1. CNW PATHIRANA says:

    Good clarification. But still it says it cant stay in ground water for long like 4/5 days?? But does that mean it can stay there 2/3 days ? Then still a risk is there ! But support for burial with enough procedures to avoid getting into ground water.

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  1. CNW PATHIRANA says:

    Good clarification. But still it says it cant stay in ground water for long like 4/5 days?? But does that mean it can stay there 2/3 days ? Then still a risk is there ! But support for burial with enough procedures to avoid getting into ground water.

Sri Lanka seeks to settle India ACU debt, credit lines over 5-years

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has requested India to settle payments due to the country under the Asian Clearing Union mechanism and credit lines given in 2022 over 5 years, Indrajit Coomaraswamy, an advisor the island’s government said.

Sri Lanka is negotiating with India to settle the money over a 5-year period, Coomaraswamy, a former central bank governor told an online forum hosted by the Central Bank.

“Our request from the Indians is to settle it over five years,” he said. “That I think is still in the early stages of negotiation. The same with the one billion line of credit.”

Sri Lanka’s central bank owed the ACU 2.0 billion US dollars to the Asian Clearing Union according to a year end debt statement, issued by the Finance Ministry.

Sri Lanka owned India, 1,621 million dollars according to ACU data by year end, excluding interest.

India has given a 1 billion US dollar credit line to Sri Lanka as well a credit line for petroleum.

Sri Lanka in March 2024 has paid 121 million US dollar out of a 331 million US dollar IMF tranche to settle an Indian credit line.

Indian credits were given after the country defaulted in April 2022 as budget support/import when most other bilateral lenders halted giving money. (Colombo/Mar26/2023)

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Sri Lanka coconut auction prices up 1.16-pct

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s coconut auction prices went up by 1.16 percent from a week ago at an auction on Thursday, data showed.

The average price for 1,000 nuts grew to 83,219.45 from 82,260.58 a week earlier at the weekly auction conducted by Sri Lanka’s Coconut Development Authority on March 23.

The highest price was 92,500 rupees for 1,000 nuts up from the previous week’s 90,600 rupees, while the lowest was 76,500 also up from 70,000 rupees.

The auction offered 900,010 coconuts and 583,291 nuts were sold. (Colombo/Mar 26/2023)

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Sri Lanka in talks for billion dollar equivalent Indian rupee swap

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is in talks with India for a billion US dollar equivalent Indian rupee central bank swap, to facilitate trade, Indrajit Coomaraswamy, ad advisor to the government said.

“The amount is still uncertain it could be up to the equivalent of a billion US dollars,” Coomaraswamy told an online forum hosted by Sri Lanka’s central bank.

The money will be used to facilate India Sri Lanka trade, he said.

India has been trying to popularize the use of Indian rupees for external trade and also encouraged Sri Lanka banks to set up Indian rupee VOSTRO accounts.

However the first step in popularizing a currency for external trade is to get domestic agents, especially exporters, to accept their own currency for trade, like in the case of the US or EU, analysts say.

India’s billion US dollar credit to Sri Lanka given during the 2022 crisis is settled in Indian rupees (transaction need).

However the Indian government itself has chosen to denominate it in US currency for debt purposes (future value).

In most South Asian nations, receivers of remittances are willing to accept domestic currencies, leading to active VOSTRO account transactions.

Sri Lanka is expected to repay a 400 million US dollar swap with the Reserve Bank of India next year under an International Monetary Fund backed program for external stability and debt re-structuring.

Central bank swap proceeds sold to banks, which are then sterilized with inflationary open market operations, can trigger forex shortages and currency crises, analysts warn.

Sri Lanka went to the International Monetary Fund after two years of inflationary monetary operations by the central bank’s issue department (money printed to suppress interest rates) triggered the biggest currency crisis in its history and external sovereign default.

Sri Lanka had gone to the IMF 16 times with similar external troubles except for the April 2003 extended fund facility under Central Bank Governor A S Jayewardene which was a purely reform-oriented program with the World Bank (PRGF/PRSP) program at a time when he was collecting reserves with deflationary monetary policy and perhaps the lowest inflation since the Bretton Woods collapsed. (Colombo/Mar26/2023)

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