Dr Anil Jasinghe will attend official COVID-19 meetings: Health Minister

Former Health Services Director General Dr Anil Jasinghe

ECONOMYNEXT- Former Health Services Director General Dr Anil Jasinghe will be brought back to the government’s official COVID-19 meetings, Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said.

Wanniarachchi revealed this in parliament today responding to a question raised by opposition MP Hesha Withanage about the involvement or lack thereof of Jasinghe in Sri Lanka’s fight against the ongoing second wave of COVID-19.

Jasinghe, who was at the forefront of the country’s efforts to contain the pandemic from March onwards was appointed Secretary to the Ministry of Environment on August 13. No official reasons were given and his replacement Dr Asela Gunawardena was not appointed until October 27. Dr S Sridharan served as Acting Director General in the interim.

With regard to the resignation of Dr Jayaruwan Bandara as Media Spokesman for the Health Ministry, she said Bandara had been temporarily appointed as Media Spokesman until a new Director General for Health Services was appointed.

The minister claimed that Bandara himself had said he would resign when a new DG was appointed. Bandara was removed from the post of spokesman on November 14. He was previously removed as Director of the Medical Research Institute (MRI) in October.

His removal was questioned by opposition lawmakers and a prominent Buddhist monk considered loyal to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. State Minister Sudarshini Fernandopulle told parliament on October 7 that Bandara’s removal as MRI diretor followed due procedure, claiming that he had merely vacated a position he had only temporarily held until the return of the previous director who had gone overseas for training.

In response to a question about the strategies followed to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, Wanniarachchi claimed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its guidelines communicated to the ministry does not recommend closing the entire country anymore even when patients continue to be discovered. “We have to live with the virus for two or three years and closing the whole country is not possible every time,” the minister said.

“We are not taking decisions based on what we have done in the past,” she added. (Colombo/Nov18/2020)

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