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Wednesday February 28th, 2024

Sri Lanka: PCR testing capacity at International Airport drops drastically

Ukrainian Tourists arriving in Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT- The capacity of the laboratory to test arriving passengers at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) for Covid 19 has dropped drastically from 3,000 per day to 600, EconomyNext reliably learns.

This has been caused by a lack of automated extraction reagent kits senior officials have said according to documents made available to EN.

The BIA remains the main port of entry in Sri Lanka and the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory established at the airport to diagnose the COVID-19 affected passengers arriving in Sri Lanka contributes to a third of all the PCR tests being carried out in the country.

A reduction in testing capacity will hit the government’s plan to re-open the country’s main international airport in a week from now.

Once opened the BIA is expected to see more than several thousand incoming passengers per day.

Sri Lanka has welcomed charter flights from Ukraine which have brought in several thousand tourists from the impoverished European country in the past few weeks.

The government has also increased the number of flight repatriating migrant workers from West Asia and Europe over the past ten days.

A letter dated yesterday written by the Deputy Director of the Medical Research Institute (MRI) Dr Jayaruwan Bandara who is overseeing the laboratory in BIA, to the Director of the Medical Research Institute says that the daily COVID-19 testing capacity of the laboratory in BIA will drop to 600 tests per day within the next couple of days as extraction reagent stock are almost over.

Moreover, the President of the Association of Government Medical Laboratory Technologists Ravi Kumudesh told reporters yesterday that it has been a month since the laboratory in BIA, which is the most efficient and the lab which does the highest number of COVID tests per day in Sri Lanka had asked for extraction reagent kits.

“As the stocks were not provided with the lab which did 3000 tests daily has reduced its capacity to 600 tests per day,” Kumudesh told a Press conference.

Further, he said that Bandara who is responsible for the laboratory has written to MRI director about this.

Kumudesh claims that the issue had become a “private dispute between the directors without providing any support to the lab in the BIA.”

Last week, the laboratory at BIA completed 100,000 PCR tests within five months since its inception on July 9 2020.

The laboratory has conducted 85,000 PCR tests for the community while more than 20,000 passengers arriving at BIA have been tested.

A fully equipped new state of the art Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, BIA issues a globally -recognized PCR certificate, and all passengers arriving at BIA are PCR tested.


Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe and edited by Arjuna Ranawana

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Sri Lanka rupee closes at 310.00/15 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 310.00/15 to the US dollar Wednesday, from 310.25/50 on Tuesday, dealers said.

Bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 01.02.2026 closed at 10.60/80 percent from 10.60/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.00 percent up from 11.80/95 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.03.2028 closed stable at 12.00/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.20/50 percent from 12.25/50 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2030 closed stable at 12.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2031 closed at 12.55/75 percent down from 12.60/80 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 12.50/90 percent down from 12.55/13.00 percent. (Colombo/Feb28/2024)

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Sri Lanka Treasuries yields edge up after steep fall

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Treasury bill yields edged up across maturities at Wednesday’s auction with the 3-month yield up 09 basis points to 9.87 percent, data from state debt office showed.

The debt office sold 27.5 billion rupees of 3-month bills after offering 35 billion rupees.

The 6-month yield rose 09 basis points to 9.95 percent with 37.23 billion rupees of bills sold, after offering 47.5 billion rupees.

The 12-month yield went up 03 bis points to 10.05 percent, with 39.5 billion rupees of bills sold and 40 billion rupees offered.

Sri Lanka’s Treasuries yield have come down sharply in recent weeks.

The trend was partly helped by some banks which were earlier not buying into bills, starting to buy them.

Deposit in the central banks overnight window (private sector sterilization) has come down from around 200 billion to around 130 billion rupees in recent weeks.

Sri Lanka’s central bank in the past have triggered currency crises and eventual high corrective rates by not allowing Treasury bill yields to move when up private credit picks up and buying them into the balance sheet.

The resulting forex problems are then blamed on budget deficits (politicians) and current account deficits (mainly imports of the public usually petroleum, gold or cars).

The central bank can still buy Treasury bills outright from banks, term or overnight to inject money, alter rupee reserves of banks and encourage them to overtrade and trigger forex shortages, confidence shocks, capital flight and a second default, critics say.

The central bank recently lifted counterparty limits of standing facilities, which are given at the policy rate without a penalty unlike in countries with greater monetary stability.

In recent weeks the central bank has oversold bills outright and injected money long term and short term, though so far overall net injections have been deflationary. (Colombo/Feb28/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close up, retail activity coming in

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

The broader All Share Index closed up 55.29 points, or 0.52 percent at 10,678; while the S&P SL20 Index closed up at 3,056 points, up 0.06 percent, or 1.73 points.

Turnover was at 1.2 billion.

Market participants said that “retail activity is also picking up.”

Hemas Holdings Plc saw large volumes being traded, contributing 90 million to the day’s turnover. The share closed up at 75.00.

Kapruka Holdings Plc announced that it had purchased 197,015 ordinary voting shares of its subsidiary Kapruka e-Commerce (Pvt) Ltd for 13.2 million rupees at 67 a share. The proceeds will be used by Kapruka e-Commerce “to fulfill the IPO objective of launching Kapruka Partner Central, the company said. The share closed down at 6.80.

E B Creasy and Company Plc announced a disposal of investment in its subsidiary, Lanka Special Steels Limited (LSSL) in accordance with the restructuring process of the E B Creasy Group. The Board resolved “to divest its 100% stake represented by 2,138,657 shares in its subsidiary Lanka Special Steels Limited (LSSL), to subsidiary company Laxapana Batteries PLC (Laxapana) for a total consideration of Rs694mn which will be settled in installments. Shares of E B Creasy and Company Plc closed up at 22.00.

Sectors that attracted investor interest were Capital Goods (376mn), Food, Beverage and Tobacco (181mn), and Banks (166mn).

Positive contributors to the indices in the day included Hayleys Plc (up at 82.00), Chevron Lubricants Lanka Plc (up at 104.00), Vallibel One Plc (43.30), and Cargills (Ceylon) Plc (up at 349.75) whose Chairman Ranjith Paige donated 3 million rupees to the ‘Children of Gaza Fund’ earlier today. (Colombo/Feb28/2024).

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