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Thursday July 18th, 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.

(Colombo/Jan15/2021)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe and edited 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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