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Thursday July 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka COVID positive number closes in on the two thousand mark as repatriation flights continue

RESCUE FLIGHTS: SriLankan Airlines is operating rescue flights for stranded citizens and other passengers.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s total number of people diagnosed with COVID 19 nudged closer to the two-thousand mark last night as more returnees to the country from overseas tested positive for the virus the Government’s Information Department said.

Patients diagnosed positive among returning Sri Lankans from the Maldives, Bangladesh and Kuwait and two more from the Navy cluster made up the 16 new patients bringing the total up to 1,905 on Monday night.

The end of May saw the highest number of COVID 19 cases being reported as two active clusters of patients produced large numbers of infected persons.

They are the Navy cluster – confined in most part to the huge Welisara Navy Camp – which has up to now produced 927 patients and the Kuwait cluster which saw 536 returnees who have been detected as positive.

The number from the Navy includes family members who were infected when personnel were permitted to travel to their homes outside of the Colombo District.

The epi-curve, the graph that tracks the number infected each day maintained by the Epidemiological Unit of the Department of Health Services has seen a gentle dip downwards in June.

DIPPING DOWN – Sri Lanka’s epi-curve is showing a downward trend

The Opposition yesterday June 15, accused the government of stopping flights bringing back migrant workers to keep the number of infected persons down.

The Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunewardena has said that the government is going slow on the repatriation as it does not want to place any greater stress on the Sri Lankan Health Service particularly the number of hospital beds.

However, repatriation flights are continuing with around 200 passengers stuck in Pakistan brought back last night.

More flights from the UK, the Maldives and the Middle-East are expected.

Thousands of Sri Lankan migrant workers are stranded in Kuwait and other places in the Middle-East, many unable to travel as their documents have been seized by the authorities or held back by job agents or employers.

Some are staying in places provided by the job agencies or in deportation camps.

The situation in the Maldives is also dire as there are nearly 7,000 Sri Lankan workers stuck in the Male and Greater Male area where the government has declared a Red Alert and urged foreign governments to take their citizens back.

The Sri Lankan authorities dispatched parcels of food, sanitary items and essential medicines to these people late last week and the distribution of these parcels to families is now underway.

Meanwhile, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa ordered police to return vehicles seized during the quarantine curfew to their owners.

Many residents have complained that they have observed police officers driving around in their cars, some of them upper range SUVs. (Colombo, June 16, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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Sri Lanka to conduct threat assessments for presidential candidates

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has submitted a cabinet paper proposing security measures for presidential candidates and former presidents, following the recent attack on former US President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in the USA.

“This proposal suggests the appointment of a committee to conduct threat assessments and provide necessary security for Presidential candidates as well as former Presidents,” a statement from his media division said.

The committee will include the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security as Chair, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of National Intelligence, and the Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police/Elections.

A Deputy Inspector General of Police will be appointed to oversee all security arrangements.

The committee and the designated officer will work closely with the Election Commission to ensure seamless coordination of security arrangements, the PMD said.

After today, July 17, Sri Lanka’s Election Committee is empowered to announce a date for the presidential polls due to be held this year.

Minister of Foreign Affairs M U M Ali Sabry has said the election will be held on October 5 or 12.

Members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) have said that the government should be accountable for the security of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the SJB’s presidential candidate. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes flat at 303.80/304.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed almost flat at 303.80/304.00 to the US dollar on Wednesday, from 303.70/304.00 to the US dollar on Tuesday, dealers said, while bond yields were down.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.60/75 percent, down from 10.82/92 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.60/38 percent, down from 11.65/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.72/78 percent, down from 11.80/90 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.05/10 percent, down from 12.05/20 percent. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close down, John Keells, Hemas, Hayleys push turnover

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed down on Wednesday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed down 0.41 percent, or 48.44 points, at 11,830; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed down 0.52 percent, or 17.91 points, at 3,456.

Turnover was 1.2 million. A big part of this (Rs597mn) came from John Keells Holdings Plc (down at 194.25).

“There was foreign buying interest on John Keells and Hemas,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“We saw foreign interest in selective counters persist.”

Hemas Holdings Plc contributed Rs143mn to the turnover, and the share closed down at 81.10.

Hayleys Plc contributed Rs156mn to the turnover, and the share closed up at 101.50.

The three crossings made up 67 percent of the turnover.

The capital goods counters, with all the bluechips, was the leading sector contributing to the day’s turnover.

With the exception of Hayleys and a couple of other companies, the counter saw most stocks close down or flat.

Sentiment around the banking counters also remained negative.

“The volatility in investor sentiments persisted. There are a lot of spectators in the market over the last few weeks, despite some positive news coming in.”

Treasury bill and bond rates have also dropped.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Melstacorp Plc (up at 86.00), SMB Finance Plc (up at 0.70), and TeeJay Lanka Plc (up at 40.00).

There was a net foreign inflow of 392 million. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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