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Monday December 5th, 2022

Sri Lanka may find more COVID 19 cases at virus struck rehabilitation centre – Army Chief

Army Chief Lt Gen Shavendra Silva

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan authorities are doing their best to prevent an outbreak of COVID 19 in a drug rehabilitation centre from spreading into the community, the country’s Chief of Armed Forces has said.

Army Commander Lt General Shavendra Silva said the investigation as to how inmates of the facility in Kandakadu in the Polonnaruwa district became infected is still on-going.

Silva, who is heading the country’s National Operations Center for Prevention of COVID 19, said it is “possible that we find more cases in the Kandakadu facility.”

He revealed that several addicts who had been found COVID 19 positive and were quarantined in Army-run centres had been brought for rehabilitation to Kandakadu after 14 days.

“At that time they had tested negative for the virus,” he said.

The probe began after an inmate of the rehabilitation centre tested positive for the Coronavirus when he was checked at the main Welikada Prison in the capital Colombo where he had been moved for a court hearing.

Some 200 fellow inmates in Welikada were tested and were found negative but tests at Kandakadu found 56 COVID 19 positive cases.

One Woman Counsellor from Kandakadu who was on leave was also tested and found positive and her family members in Marawila have now been quarantined, Silva said.

Eight other staff members who had gone home are being brought back to Kandakadu, Silva who is the Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces said.

“The President and the Prime Minister have asked us to take all possible steps to prevent this outbreak from going into the community at large,” he told Media in a video release last night July 9.

It has been three days since the inmate at the Welikada jail was detected and despite the deployment of Armed Forces and Health services personnel it has not been possible to find out how he may have contracted the disease.

Apart from the possibility that he got it from other people intended for rehabilitation as the Commander said there is a chance that he may have got it from Sri Lankan migrant workers who returned.

Official sources said that some drug addicts who were transferred to Sri Lanka from jails in Middle-Eastern countries when workers and others were repatriated were also sent for rehabilitation to the centre.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Relations 87 Sri Lankans who were incarcerated in the Middle-East have been brought back to Sri Lanka because they had been on deportation orders.

It is not known how many of them are at Kandakadu.

The number detected at Kandakadu is the highest since June 3, when 66 COVID 19 positive patients were found according to the Epidemiological Unit of the Department of Health Services.

After the inmate was detected as COVID 19 positive at the Welikada Prison hospital on Tuesday the authorities send a total of 204 persons, inclusive of prison inmates and Prison Officers into various quarantine centres.

They conducted some 270 PCR tests of inmates and staff at Welikada but no-one tested positive.

They included inmates and staff from the Polonnaruwa, Welikada and Pallekelle jails, a statement from the Task Force to Prevent COVID 19 said.

They are all persons the infected inmate may have come into contact with.

Having a COVID 19 patient in Sri Lanka’s grossly overcrowded Prison is a nightmare the authorities do not want to deal with.

On Tuesday Prison officials closed off the prison for family visits prompting demonstrations outside the Welikada jail.

Most of Sri Lanka’s COVID 19 positive cases have come from two clusters, one at the sprawling Naval base at Welisara and the other from migrant workers returning from various countries in the Middle-East and Europe. (Colombo, July 10, 2020)


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Sri Lanka’s shares gain in mid market trade

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares edged up in mid day trade on Monday (05), continuing the positive run for seven straight sessions on news over a possible debt restructuring from Paris Club, analysts said.

All Share Price Index gained by 0.69% or 60.10 points to 8,829, while the most liquid shares gained by 0.96% or 26.59 points to 2,801.

“The market was pushed up over the news of a potential 10 year debt moratorium,” analysts said.

The Paris Club group of creditor nations has proposed a 10-year debt moratorium on Sri Lankan debt and 15 years of debt restructuring as a formula to resolve the island nation’s prevailing currency crisis. 

Related – Paris Club proposes 10-year moratorium in 15-year Sri Lanka debt re-structure: report

The market generated a revenue of 2.1 billion rupees.

Top gainers during 1130 hours were Expolanka, Browns Investment and LOLC.  (Colombo/Dec05/2022)


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Sri Lanka bond yields slightly down

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bond yields were slightly down at open on Monday while t- bills were inactive, dealers said.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank transactions was at 363.18 rupees against the US dollar, appreciated from 363.19 rupees on Friday.

“Only one bond is being quoted today, and the rest remaining unquoted” a dealer said.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 quoted at 29.30/30.00 percent down from 29.50/75 percent at Friday’s close.(Colombo/ Dec 03/2022)

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Sri Lanka should prioritize RCEP , not small FTAs: economist

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka should make joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) a priority instead of trying to negotiate multiple smaller deals, an economist has said.

“We do not have the bandwidth in government and the technical resources to do multiple trade agreements,” Anushka Wijesinghe an economist who has been involved in trade told a business forum in Colombo.

“I think RCEP should be number one priority, rather than three or four tiny bilateral goods agreements.”

Sri Lanka is trying negotiate a free trade deal with China and expand an existing one with India.

Data show that Sri Lanka has been able to boost exports with FTAs.

Sri Lanka has high tariff protection which ultimately backfire.

Sri Lanka has protectionist business interests their profits from overpriced goods have had priority over ordinary consumers and overall economic efficiency that comes from free trade.

Sri Lanka also has monetary instability, which has worsened under flexible inflation targeting, with a series of currency crises coming in rapid successions.

Forex shortages from mis-targeted interest rates under flexible or discretionary monetary policies have discredited free trade and liberalization in general and strengthened the hands of economic nationalists, analysts say.

The country also has monetary instability, which makes life difficult not only for investors but all economic agents.

Over the past two decades Sri Lanka’s exports have not grown as much as competitors. (Colombo/Dec05/2022)

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