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Nearly half a million Sri Lankans vaccinated by Sunday

FRONTLINE: A nurse in Sri Lanka getting ready to vaccinate fellow health workers.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has vaccinated nearly half a million people by the end of February and has the capacity to give the Covid 19 jab to another 700,000 people at present senior officials in the Department of Health Services said.

The Deputy Director-General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath told EconomyNext that 466,861 people were vaccinated by February 28, while the process continues in the high-risk western province.

“We have not started vaccinating areas outside the western province yet other than vaccinating the front line health workers and armed forces personnel” he added.

“We are still yet to cover the general public that we have identified in the western province” Herath said.

A new consignment of 500,000 doses arrived last week, permitting the department to up the number of vaccinations to the 700,000 mark.

This was the first batch of the total of nine million doses purchased by Sri Lanka from India’s Serum Institute.

Following discussions held last week, several high-risk areas have been identified where everyone above 30 will receive the jab. In other areas, the official said, those above 60 will get it. The remaining 200,000 will be distributed in other vaccination centres that operate under Medical Officers of Health as requested.

State Pharmaceuticals Corporation General Manager Dinusha Dissanayake told EconomyNext from “from there we will be able to increase the amount according to the amount of vaccine we get.”

So far Sri Lanka has vaccinated 46,173 in the Army, 10,435 in the Navy, 7,447 in the Air Force, 19,375 in Police, 176,808 Health staff including doctors, 186,245 Community and 18,995 of a vulnerable community in high-risk areas.

Meanwhile, Herath said the number of Covid patients in Sri Lanka is dropping due to the interaction of patients in the community decreasing.

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“Everyone asks whether we have reduced testing but in reality, there is a decrease in testing is due to the drop in patients,” Herath said.

He said the most amount of PCR testing was done to identify the patients in the close contacts of the first patient.

“We do random tests as well, but the effectiveness of it to identify patients are very low” Herath said.

“Therefore, even we do random PCR tests we do not invest in them that much.”

“With the reduction in close contacts of patients, the number of PCR tests have also decreased,” Herath said.

“If we have missed any patients, we should at least have patients that come to the hospital because of the symptoms and we can identify from there”

“But no such cases have been reported so far either” he said.

“This doesn’t mean we have stopped doing a random test, we are just doing them within a limit island-wide”

(Colombo/ March 01/2021)

Reported by Chanka Jayasinghe

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