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Friday January 27th, 2023

Two clusters make up nearly half of Sri Lanka’s total of COVID 19 patients

Navy guards at the Kochchikade Shrine of St Anthony shortly after the Easter Sunday attacks/Pathum Dhananjana

ECONOMYNEXT – In the past six days a total of 285 new COVID 19 positive cases have been diagnosed throughout Sri Lanka, according to statistics released by the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health today April 28.

The total number since the outbreak of the disease and the discovery of the first patient, a Chinese tourist, is now 596.

So in the past six days the number of COVID 19 patients in Sri Lanka has nearly doubled, a huge surge for a country that has had a very incremental increase in patient numbers on a daily basis.

These statistics are because of what is known as the “Welisara Navy Cluster” the large number of Navy Personnel from this giant Navy Camp who were found to be COVID 19 positive.

In all 206 persons are from this cluster.

They are believed to have contracted the disease from fellow sailors who were deployed to find and round up a group of at-risk people who were eventually found to be COVID 19 positive at Suduwella in the Ja-Ela area.

Subsequently after testing all the sailors in the Barrack where the sailors who had contact with the at-risk people, 30 Navy men were found to be sick with the virus.

Later testing of a large number of sailors found that more Navy men in the camp were infected.

The Navy also found that some sailors from the same Barrack had gone home on leave and had crossed district barriers and reached their home villages which were in areas, which until now, had been free of the virus.

These regions ranged from Polonnaruwa, where the first COVID 19 positive sailors was found, to Girandurukotte in the Badulla District.

Some had travelled on returning vegetable trucks, taken three-wheelers or motorbikes to get home.

This has placed their family members in their villages as well as close associates at risk of contracting the disease.

Health Officials use the word “cluster” to describe a group of patients which are geographically located at a central spot and relate their infections to a single person.

The biggest earlier cluster was in the Bandaranayake Mawatha area in Central Colombo where 62 people were infected through a single person.

The first patient referred as the “Index Patient” in that case is a lady who returned from a pilgrimage to India and may have caught the disease from a fellow passenger on her flight home, according to Health Officials.

Public Health Officials found that her husband and son were also infected and within weeks many people in her neighbourhood, as well as nearby sectors, were testing positive for COVID 19.

These two clusters have contributed 268 of the 596 patients to the Sri Lankan total. (Colombo, April 28, 2020)

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Sri Lanka’s Dialog Axiata hopes to hold prices despite rising costs

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Dialog Axiata hopes to hold prices despite higher taxes, rising costs like energy, officials said as the country goes through the worst currency crisis in the history of its intermediate regime central bank.

High inflation following a collapse of the currency has reduced real incomes of customers.

“There are many factors to consider, especially with the last price increase we did in last year did not resulted in a significant increase in revenue” Pradeep De Almeida · Group Chief Technology Officer at Dialog Axiata said at the launch of its Future zone at Lotus tower.

In September,2022 following an electricity tarrif hike dialog increased its tariffs on Mobile, Fixed Telephone, Broadband Plans and Value Added Services (Prepaid and Postpaid) by 20 percent while tariffs on all Pay Television Services were raised 25 percent.

Value Added Tax (VAT) was also raised by the government from 12 percent to 15 percent on all Telecommunications and Pay TV services.

“Even though we increase the prices we only saw around 8-9 percent increase in revenue,” Almeida said.

“That is because many users cut off their usage to limit the spending”.

Dialog will increase efficiencies and manage costs in an attempt to avoid prices increases for customers, he said.

Over the 24 months to December 2022, Sri Lanka;s central bank has generated inflation of 76 percent, based on the Colombo Consumer Price Index official data shows. Following the currency collapse, more power tariff hikes are planned.

“We are trying to mainly bear the cost from our side. We are getting a massive support from our parent company Telekom Malaysia International,” Navin Peiris, Group Chief Enterprise Officer at Dialog told EconomyNext.

“Therefore as of now, there is no plan to increase prices”. (Colombo/Jan 26/2023)

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Sri Lanka shares fall at market close on profit taking

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka shares fell on Thursday as profit taking entered the market mainly on financial and diversified sectors, brokers said.

The main All Share Price Index (ASPI) fell 0.13 percent or 11.50 points to close at 8,926.56.

“The market was trading on dull trade mainly due to profit taking,” an analyst said.

“Also we saw investors taking a sideline as quarterly reports started to come”.

The earnings in the first quarter of 2023 are expected to be negative with revised up taxes and an imminent electricity tariff hike.

Earnings in the second quarter are expected to be more positive with the anticipation of IMF loan and possible reduction in the market interest rates as the tax revenue has started to generate funds.

The central bank’s policy decision was expected and investors have been eying on IMF deal with hopes of rapid economic recovery from the current unprecedented economic crisis, however since the market gained in the last sessions profit taking has come about, analysts said.

The market has been on a rising trend on the hopes of a faster IMF deal. However, the central bank government said the IMF deal is likely in the quarter or in the first month of the second quarter.

The most liquid index S&P SL20 fell  0.33 percent or 9.21 points to 2,798.

LOLC had seen some attention by investors as the firm disposed 90,256,750 shares held with Agstar PLC at 15-17.50 rupees a share.

The market witnessed a turnover of 1.2 billion rupees, lower than the month’s daily average of 1.9 billion rupees.

Expolanka dragging the market down closed 2.36 percent down at 186.7 rupees a share. Sampath bank fell 1.41 percent to close at 42 rupees a share while Royal Ceramic Lanka closed 2.59 percent dwn at 30.1 rupees a share.


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Sri Lanka bonds yields steady at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka bond yields were steady at close on Thursday, dealers said, while a guidance peg for interbank transactions by the Central Bank remained steady.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2024 closed at 31.00/20 percent unchanged from the last close.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 26.60/90 percent, up from 28.50/70 percent on Wednesday.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 28.60/85 percent, up from 28.50/60 percent at the last close.

The three months bill closed at 29.75/30.25 percent unchanged from the last close.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank US dollar transactions appreciated by another 2 cents to 362.14 rupees against the US dollar.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers at 360.49 rupees on Thursday, data showed.  (Colombo/Jan 26/2022)

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