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MRI Director Dr Jayaruwan Bandara demoted and deputy appointed as head

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry has demoted the head of the premier research institute responsible for Covid testing and appointed his former deputy as the head of the Medical Research Institute, senior officials said.

A top source from the Ministry of Health said that the demotion of Dr Jayaruwan Bandara as the MRI head was not ordered by the Minister, Pavithra Wanniarachchi.

At today’s Cabinet Press briefing Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwelle told reporters that Wanniarachchi will give a statement about the issue later in the day. He did not deny reports of Bandara’s removal.

Bandara in a Television interview said that Covid had been “present in the community for the past few months,” breaking an official silence on the subject.

Bandara told a private television news network last morning that the virus has been in the community for the past few months outside the clusters identified by the health officials.

“There is a danger in this situation,” Bandara told Derana TV.

“From January to now this virus has been present in the community somehow,” he said.

Bandara said it is unlikely that the COVID-19 patient found in Divulapitiya yesterday after two months of no new cases reported outside the identified clusters if there were no patients already in the community.

“How else could we have found a patient now?” Bandara said.

He further said citizens should be aware of the situation and should start following the health guidelines issued by the health authorities.

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“We do not know whether these patients or any of their contacts came to our environment or not,” he added. (Colombo October 6, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana