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Thursday December 1st, 2022

Sri Lanka ramps up chloroquine output, public warned not to take as preventive drug

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has warned the public against taking Chloroquine, an-anti malarial drug which has been identified as a possible drug which can help Coronavirus patients recover faster as a preventive, while ramping up domestic production.

“The medical supply division have given us a purchase order to manufacture 500,000 chloroquine tablets which was manufactured under 24 hours,” Uthpala Indrawansa, a medical doctor who is Chairman of the State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC) told EconomyNext.

“This treatment is only for patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and should not be administered to anyone without a prescription under a medical consultant.”

Sri Lankans have been warned not to take chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug which is due to undergo a clinical trial in the US to find dosages and effectiveness to treat already infected patients.

“There has been a view that taking Chloroquin will prevent the infection of COVID19 virus,” Anil Jasinghe, head of Sri Lanka’s Health Service said Sunday.

“I have consulted a team of 12 specialists in the field and I was told through data and other analysis that this drug cannot prevent infection.

“This drug can be administered to patients who are already infected with COVID19 and that also only in a hospital situation. I I urge you not to buy this drug and self-administer as it will not prevent infection.”

Interest in the drug had shot up after President Trump said the US Food and Drug Administration has given the nod for a broader clinical trial after researchers found that it appeared to help Coronavirus patients recover faster in a smaller study.

The dosage and efficacy of the drug will be decided by the clinical trial, the FDA chief said. In some countries people have been poisoned by taking large doses of chloroquine taken as a prophylactic.

Sri Lankan doctors have used the drug for decades in their fight against malaria and it is widely available in pharmarcies of many countries. Trump pointed out that the FDA could speed up approval since the side effects of the Chloroquine was already known.

Chloroquine is also used in treatments like Rheumatoid arthritis and Systemic lupus erythematosus.

“Chloroquine is of two types, manly Hydroxychloroquine Sulphate and Chloroquine Phosphate,” Indrawansa explained.

“The main component in this treatment is ‘Quinine’, therefore both these types of chloroquine is used.”

The drug is widely available in pharmacies in many tropical countries had been sold out in some. People who took large doses have suffered chloroquine poisoning.

Meanwhile, Fugifilm, a Japanese company has produces a drug called Avigan which is used against flu shown ‘very good clinical results’, in a trial, news agencies said.

Favipiravir, the main ingredient in the influenza drug Avigan is claimed to turn patients negative for the virus after a median of four days as opposed to a median of 11 days for patients who weren’t treated with the drug in China, foreign media reports said. (Colombo/23Mar/2020)

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Sri Lanka China-backed port to welcome second cruise ship

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s China-backed Hambantota Port said it was getting ready to welcome MV Azamara Quest, a cruise ship, as another passenger vessel departed.

Mein Schiff 5, operated by TUI had departed Hambantota International Port for Pulau Penang Island, Malaysia on November.

“As well as being her maiden call at the port, Mein Schiff 5 is the first passenger cruise ship to call at the port since the pandemic began,” said Johnson Liu, CEO of Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) said in a statement.

“It was undoubtedly a great boost for the tourist economy in the south when the vessel called at the Hambantota International Port.”

Mein Schiff 5’s passengers had also visited the Bundala National Park, Hambantota Botanical Gardens, Galle and Kataragama.

Passengers had explored Hambantota by tuk-tuk, while others had enjoyed the beaches in the Shangri La Hotel, the port said.

MV Azamara Quest will arrive in Hambanota on on December 05. (Colombo/Dec01/2022)

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Sri Lanka’s shares gain in mid market trade

EXONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s shares gained in mid market trade on Thursday (1), pushed up by strong positive sentiments on interest rates easing in line with inflation and speculation on government to hold talks with multilateral creditors ADB and World Bank for a possible loan facility.

Market has continued to gain for the past four sessions.

“Shares were moving on positive strong sentiments flowing in from yesterday (30), we are seeing a rally in the hotels, while the retail favorites such as LIOC and Expolanka,” analysts said.

Positive investor sentiments have been established, from positive comments from the Governor of the Central Bank over market rates eventually seeing an ease despite the fears of a domestic debt restructuring as inflation falls, increased liquidity in dollar markets, and the inter-bank liquidity improves.

Analysts further stated that, Treasury related stocks are also activated due to downward movements in yield.

All Share Price Index (ASPI) gained by 1.4 percent or 123.41 points to 8,774.64, while the most liquid share gained by 1.31% or 35.68 points to 2,765.

The market generated a turnover of 1.6 billion rupees at 1130 hours. (Colombo/Dec1/2022)

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Sri Lanka electricity losses from overpriced fuel, no tariff hike considered: regulator

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board’s high operating costs are partly due to excessive prices paid for fuel and no tariff hike is being considered, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka, Janaka Ratnayake said.

The CEB itself does not buy fuel but depends on state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and Lanka Coal, another state firm to buy fuel. Both firms are periodically caught in procurement scandals.

“They are paying about 385 plus rupees per litre for furnace oil,” Ratnayaka told EconomyNext.

“That is too much. From the global market we can buy it to much lower price. It can be imported below 200 rupees,”

“I ask the government to take the necessary steps to create a system to import furnace oil, like they did for fuel, to be imported at the lower price levels. If that happens, we can go without going for a price hike.”

Sri Lanka’s CEB generally gets furnace oil and residual oil from the domestic refinery and usually do not import furnace oil.

The refinery however is not regularly operating due to inability to get crude amidst the worst currency crisis in the history of the island’s intermediate regime central bank.

Ratnayake had earlier brought to light import costs of the CPC.

Pushing for operations efficiency of the CEB is a role of the regulator. Regulating costs based on global benchmark prices to push for procurement efficiencies is a standard practice. However the PUCSL is not the official regulator of the petroleum sector.

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Sri Lanka power tariff revisions sought in Jan and July: Minister

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera told parliament that cabinet approval was sought to twice yearly tariff hikes in January and July of each year.

No Electricity tariff hikes are being considered yet, Ratnayake said.

Wijesekera blamed the regulator as well as successive administrations for not regularly revising power prices and pushing the sector into crisis.

In Sri Lanka activists had also blocked cheap coal power. (Colombo/Dec01/2022)

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