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Health authorities keeping tab on Omicron variant – State Minister Sudarshini Fernandopulle

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Health authorities are presently investigating if any person coming from countries affected by the Omicron variant has entered Sri Lanka during the last 14 days, Primary Health Care State Minister Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, told Parliament yesterday (30).

“The WHO is yet to give a detailed analysis on this variant Omicron.We do not know how fast this variant would spread and how serious it could affect human life or how many deaths it can cause. There has been a speculation that this variant may infect persons who have already got infected by the virus earlier. It is too early to say whether the vaccines would work or not against this variant and the WHO is still conducting experiments on this. In African countries, the infected persons have shown different symptoms than the usual ones we have experienced. As countries we need to continue all safety measures, scientific experiments to prevent the spread of this virus,” Fernandopulle noted.

Fernandopulle also noted that the government is presently taking all preventive measures to stop the new COVID-19 variant entering the country.

The State Minister requested the public to wear masks, adopt proper health measures and get vaccinated in order to save the public and the country from the new variant. State Minister Fernandopulle made these observations while participating in the debate on the Expenditure Head of the Health Ministry yesterday.

Fernandopulle noted, “Today 72.7% of the population in the country has taken the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 62.7% of the population has taken the second dose. 84 /% of the population over 16 have taken both doses.”

While noting that Sri Lanka’s programme to fight the pandemic has been internationally recognized and appreciated, Fernandopulle said, “The structural expansion of the health system in this country is at an excellent level. Anyone can reach a hospital within 3 km. The government has been able to achieve successful health indicators with limited funds. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the training healthcare workers from Sri Lanka.”

Referring to the 1990 Suwasariya ambulance service, she pointed out that during the pandemic, 95,042 COVID-19 patients have been transported and received more than 5,000 calls a day. It has been 5 years since the commencement of the Ambulance Service and the number of ambulances in operation is 297, Fernandopulle noted. Thus, there is a shortage of 112 ambulances for the Suwasariya service and 25 ambulances have been provided by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Fernandopulle also said. The rest of the ambulances will be purchased with the aid of the Asian Development Bank, the State Minister added.

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