Health sector failed to provide backing – AIGFF
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
The health sector failed to provide a proper backing to regain the trust of the public regarding fish consumption with the emergence of the COVID-19 cluster on 21 October 2020 at the Peliyagoda Fish Market, the All Island General Fisheries Federation (AIGFF) said.
National Convener of the AIGFF, Rathna Gamage, said despite the people’s need for fish consumption to strengthen the immunity and health to battle against COVID-19, the Health Ministry had done little to rebuild the confidence people had in consuming fish. “We are not asking anyone at the Health Ministry to give a performance like the one given by former Parliamentarian Dilip Wedaarachchi to induce faith in eating fish, but steps should have been taken to issue certain health guidelines for people to follow when purchasing fish.”
Gamage said the AIGFF had also submitted a set of proposals to the Government, of which one was to have the Fisheries Corporation purchase the harvest from the fishers at a reasonable price and store them in freezers, till the catch could be sold and for the Health Ministry to monitor the process. Also, the fish could be sold through a mobile service fitted with freezers.
Gamage said the Union had also appealed to the Government to provide fuel at a concessionary price of 20 to 30 per cent till the situation was brought under control.
Deputy Director General (Public Health – II), Dr. Hemantha Herath, meanwhile said the fear regarding fish consumption was completely baseless. “The Peliyagoda Fish Market cluster did not occur due to fish, but as a result of people crowding. Further, the fish, when prepared, is washed and cooked, thereby minimising the possibility of virus infection being caused through it. The same should be the case with vegetables,” he said.
Fisheries Ministry sources said although the Health Ministry had not given them an official set of guidelines, they were collaborating with it to formulate documentation to be adhered to by those in the trade and the consumers.