Mutants must be blocked at any cost – Chief Epidemiologist
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
Chief Epidemiologist, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera said every effort should be made to prevent any mutated variant of the COVID-19 entering Sri Lanka.
Addressing the Media at the Health Promotion Bureau (HPB), yesterday (12) he said the Indian variant has feared to have entered the country owing to the large number of COVID-19 patients being diagnosed. However, the particular variant identified by the Sri Jayawardena University was that of an Indian national who had travelled to Sri Lanka for work and was in quarantine at the time he had contracted the infection.
The Indian national was admitted to a treatment facility and had been sent home for quarantining following his recovery and will report to duty at his place of employment. Dr. Samaraweera said that the Health Ministry and the Jayewardenepura University were collaborating on identifying deadly variants of the virus that might enter the country. Samples taken from PCR tests done in State and private sector laboratories are sent to the University where genomic sequencing is being carried out to identify mutated variants. He said that every effort should be made to prevent COVID-19 variants from entering the society. “In order to prevent such a disaster, quarantine procedures should be further strengthened.
As a first step the Government has reverted to implementing the 14-day institutional quarantine for repatriates,” he noted. The Epidemiology Chief said that while the Unit’s Immunisation Programme was able to administer 221,368 second doses of the Covishield vaccine, an additional 600,000 jabs were needed to vaccinate the total 925,242 persons who received its first dose. Also, a total 50,493 persons received the first dose of the Sinopharm vaccine in the three Districts of the Western Province alone.
A total of 71,203 have received the first dose of the Chinese vaccine till now. He said that 5,460 persons had received the first dose of the Sputnik V vaccine on Tuesday (11) while a total 11,338 persons have received the first dose of the Russian vaccine till now. Meanwhile addressing the Media at the Government Information Department (GID) earlier yesterday (12) State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle said that a consignment of the Sputnik V vaccine is expected to reach Sri Lanka within the next two weeks.
Accordingly the country will receive 600,000 doses of Sputnik V. Fernandopulle said that unlike its counterparts, the Russian vaccine had to be administered within two hours after being removed from the freezer. She added that vaccination reports are to be sent to Russia before the second consignment’s arrival. The State Minister lamented that the third wave of the virus had seen 31,616 cases within a span of a little less than one month by Tuesday (11) night.