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The Peradeniya University has created a website that uses ArtiFicial Intelligence (AI) technology to provide accurate statistical predictions on the number of patients and deaths due to COVID-19, that may be reported in the next 10 days. This site is known as A 14 COVID and can be accessed via the https://covid.eng.pdn.ac.lk extension.

It has been developed by Research Engineers, Harshana Weligampola and Umar Marikkar of the Electrical and Electrical Engineering Department under the guidance of Prof. Janaka Ekanayake, of the Engineering Faculty. Prof. Vijitha Herath, senior lecturer Dr. Roshan Godaliyadda and Dr. Parakrama Ekanayake have supervised the effort.

Relevant predictions are made by matching the cases of COVID patients and deaths with past information and the specialty of the AI process is that the relevant system works like a trained and knowledgeable person, Dr. Roshan Godaliyadda said.

He added that this artificial intelligence technology system has been built taking into account situations in different countries as COVID is a global issue. Due to the development of this intelligence technology system focusing on the data from the countries where the Delta variant was spreading when it was not prevalent in Sri Lanka when the variant started spreading in the island the system was able to provide data which were very close to the actual number of reported cases and deaths, he added.

In addition to Sri Lanka, the site uses past corona data from countries such as Italy, Japan, Texas, USA and Nigeria for predictions. He also said that the future social, economic and educational process of the country can be shaped by using the high accuracy data provided by this website.

 

The outgoing Egyptian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Hussein El Saharty called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (18).

Mr. Saharty, who has been newly appointed as a Coordinator for Egyptian Civil Society Organisations, said that he will continue to work to strengthen the relations with Sri Lanka.

Mr. Saharty further stressed the need to enhance security ties and develop the tourism industry between the two countries.

President Rajapaksa commended Mr. Saharty for his service rendered to Sri Lanka as the Ambassador of Egypt.

Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundera, Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage and the Counsellor of the Egyptian Embassy Karim Abulenein were also present.

 

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has established a Presidential Task Force for Green Agriculture.

President Rajapaksa appointed this Task Force Friday last (15) through an Extraordinary Gazette notification, the President’s Media Division said.

The Task Force chaired by Vijith Welikala has 14 members. Vernon Perera, Additional Secretary to the President, has been appointed as Secretary of the said Task Force.

Through the gazette, the President directed the Presidential Task Force for Green Agriculture to liaise with the Economic Revival and Poverty Alleviation Task Force and the Presidential Task Force for the creation of a Green Sri Lanka with sustainable Solutions for climate Change.

It has been emphatically stated in the Policy Statement: “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” that action would be initiated to build a developed agricultural economy and to create an opportunity for the local and international consumer to obtain toxin-free agricultural products within the next decade as well as to introduce eco-friendly crops.

 

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse has instructed officials to prepare a methodology to pay compensation from the Agrahara Insurance fund for public servants under treatment at homes for covid 19. The Prime Minister gave the instructions during a discussion with Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna trade unions and joint trade union federation representatives at the Temple Trees. The Prime Minister as then finance minister has taken steps to implement the Agrahara compensation payment system in budget proposals 2021 for public servants under treatment at hospitals and who die due to the infection. The trade union representatives said that public service should be made efficient. The Prime Minister pointed out that the efficiency and productivity of the public service should be improved and the officials should take necessary steps. Prime Minister Rajapakse said that local and foreign training opportunities for public service should be increased to achieve the aim. The trade union representatives expressed their views on getting back the pension denied by the good governance government. The Prime Minister immediately instructed the secretary to the ministry of public administration about the issue. Discussions were also held on increasing pensions in comparison with the increased cost of living.

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Indian Army commander General Manoj Makundh Narawana met President Gotabhaya Rajapakse this morning at the Presidential Secretariat. Commencing the discussion, the Indian Army commander said that his country highly expects stability in neighboring countries for regional security. Recalling military training and experiences in India he had during his military service period, the president praised the leadership skills acquired by local army officers through training in India. The President inquired General Manoj Makundh about ensuring India’s security, military welfare activities in mountain ranges and ranks of Indian army officers sent for training.  The Indian Army Commander said that Indian army officers are sent for leadership training after being appointed as a commander and explained about the age limit of various ranks sent on retirement. Nearly 1000 Sri Lankan army officers undergo training annually in India.  The Indian army commander said that on a request from Sri Lanka Army Commander General Shavendra De Silva a special training programme   for 50 officers will be provided in future. General Manoj Makundh Narawana said that his memory on the experiences during his duty at Trincomale 4th mile post, representing the Indian Peace Keeping Force, was renewed with the tour. The president said he is also happy to speak about recalling the memory in such an occasion as a former army officer. Meanwhile, the Indian Army Commander visited the army headquarters in Battaramulla this morning. Army Commander General Shavendra Silva and Indian army commander held bilateral discussions important to both countries. The Indian Army Commander is visiting Sri Lanka on an invitation from Army Commander General Shavendra Silva.

The Government agrees to facilitate the pay hike of teachers and principals in two stages, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has told the Teacher-Principal Union representatives.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa met the Teacher-Principal Union representatives for a decisive meeting at Temple Trees yesterday. The Teacher-Principal Unions are engaged in a trade union action for over three months demanding to rectify their salary anomalies and teachers have stopped online teaching.

The Cabinet Sub-committee appointed to look into the issue proposed to increase the salaries of teachers and principals in three stages, and the PM proposed to implement its first stage from Budget 2022 and the second and third stages from Budget 2023.

The PM said that the Government is sensitive to the salary problems of the teachers and principals and that it accepts that those anomalies should be rectified. However, he pointed out that those demands could not be met at once as the receipts to the Treasury have dropped in the face of COVID-19. He told the Union Leaders that the Government is coming up with these proposals despite the prevailing financial difficulties because it is important to continue the education of children without any interruption. He also assured that other recommendations of the Cabinet Sub-Committee headed by Minister Dallas Alahapperuma would also be implemented, adding that those have received Cabinet approval.

Accordingly, he said the teachers’, teaching consultants’, and principals’ service would be made “Closed Services” and the orders in this regard would be published in November. The rest of the recommendations will be implemented within six months.

Teacher and Principal Trade Unions said they would convey their decision today after discussing the solutions presented by the Government with their members. Ceylon Teachers Services Union General Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe speaking to the media said the demand was for the proposed salary to be given at once.

“However, the proposed salary will be provided via two installments by the Government. We will discuss with our members before reaching a final decision,” he said. Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera also attended the meeting. Among the representatives of the Teacher-Principal Unions, who attended the meeting, were Joseph Stalin, Mahinda Jayasinghe, Ven. Ulapane Sumangala Thera and several others.

Ministers Dinesh Gunawardena, Gamini Lokuge, Dallas Alahapperuma, Mahinda Amaraweera, and Udaya Gammanpila attended the meeting together with several other Government representatives.

State universities are expected to resume physical classes next month after the completion of the youth vaccination program this month.

UGC Chairman Prof. Sampath Amaratunga said discussions are on to reopen universities in November following the prolonged closure due to the outbreak of Covid-19 world pandemic.

The five-day Covid-19 vaccination program for university students will begin tomorrow, Director General of Health Services Dr. Asela Gunawardena said.

He said the undergraduates will be administered the Sinopharm vaccine and the university vaccination program has been arranged in consultation with the health authorities, University Grants Commission (UGC) officials, and Vice-Chancellors. The students can receive the jab from the university closest to their residence and they are not required to visit the university they are enrolled in, Dr. Gunawardena said.

The Government plans to complete Covid vaccinations for youth aged 20-30 by the end of this month. Speaking on the national inoculation drive, Dr. Asela Gunawardena said the rolling out of the third booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine will commence after the inoculation program for children concludes.

 
 

The booster shot will be administered to people who have received the second dose, after an interval of six months. However, immunocompromised people will be given the third dose a month after being fully vaccinated. Almost a hundred percent of those over 60 have now been fully vaccinated and the inoculation of those between 30 to 59 years is nearing completion, the Health Ministry stated.

The Sri Lanka Medical Association has recommended that a third dose be administered to those above 60 who had received the Sinopharm jab, one month after the second dose. The third dose can be AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or Moderna.

State Minister Dr. Channa Jayasumana said the SPC has already placed orders for 14.5 million more doses of Pfizer vaccine for children and those eligible for a third dose.

All schoolchildren should keep their masks on while they are in school and it is the duty of the parents to train them now to keep their masks on.

It is the duty of all teachers to monitor constantly whether children keep their masks on. The children can take the mask off and breathe for a while only when they are outside the buildings and not close to another child/children, the Deputy Director General (Public Health) Dr. Susie Perera said.

She told a press briefing at the Health Promotion Bureau in Colombo recently that the parents should train their children now to keep the mask for a few hours.

One child should have at least five masks to use during the week.

The child should be given a separate small pouch to keep the mask when it is taken off from the face. They should be educated on not to play with it. Dr. Perera said that all teachers need to wear their masks during school hours. Holding exams is not a problem at all and it is very safe because exams are conducted in a strictly controlled environment.

Schoolchildren cannot keep away from schools forever and schools need to be opened. The only way of doing this safely is by getting used to the `New Normalcy’ and getting trained to live under the `New Normalcy’ before reopening schools.

Dr. Perera said that every citizen should be very much aware of his / her private space and respond instantly when someone violates his/her private space and comes closer exceeding the safe distance. This is the only way of preventing Covid-19. It is very important to keep all doors and windows open in public transport because people cannot keep them safe distance (more than one metre) from each other while travelling in public transport.

The younger generation’s reluctance to get themselves vaccinated due to various misconceptions poses a risk of the COVID-19 spreading again, Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Samitha Ginige emphasized.

He pointed out that even while enough stocks of vaccinations required for COVID-19 vaccinations have been received, the country’s youth between 20 to 29 years are not keen to get themselves vaccinated due to certain misconceptions and various posts on social media.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) Director General for South Asia Department Kenichi Yokoyama has assured President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that the ADB will support the promotion of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided a $ 750 million concessional loan last year for projects in Sri Lanka. Mr. Yokoyama said that the ADB will take steps to increase that amount to $ 1 billion next year.

The Director General made these remarks when he met with President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat, today (05).

Mr. Yokoyama further noted that the success of the COVID-19 vaccination drive demonstrates Sri Lanka’s ability to overcome challenges.

The President pointed out that the entire public service and the health and security sectors had worked together to make the vaccination programme and the COVID eradication process a success.

The government’s objective is to reduce the use of fossil fuels and move towards the use of renewable energy sources. A number of solar and wind power generation projects have been planned for this purpose. The government has also taken a policy decision to use organic fertilizer. The President also requested for Mr. Yokoyama’s intervention to provide technical assistance for the production of organic fertilizer and nitrogen extraction.

The Government’s aim is to uplift the income and living standards of those who make up 90% of the rural population that are engaged in agriculture. The President also pointed out the need to increase the forest cover through economically viable cultivations and sought the assistance of the Asian Development Bank.

Asian Development Bank Country Director Chen Chen, Deputy Director Utsav Kumar, Secretary to the President P. B. Jayasundera and Principal Advisor to the President Lalith Weeratunga were also present.

 

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