ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has no plans to go for a lockdown or movement restrictions, but health authorities would have to rethink this if COVID-19 continues to spread, an official said after the country recorded over 900 COVID-19 cases for a second day running on Thursday (27).
With Thursday’s 942 infections, total cases in Sri Lanka have reached 607,104, with 14,705 patients receiving treatment in hospitals or at home.
Deputy Director of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath told reporters on Friday (28) that, despite the rising cases, the authorities have no intention to put the public under COVID-19 restrictions again.
“But if it increases beyond a certain limit, and the spreading doesn’t stop, the authorities may have to rethink it,” he said.
“But at the moment there is no need to go for any restrictions. We have not even thought about going for a lockdown and we don’t think we will need to in the future.”
The daily cases curve that was on the decline in December 2021 gradually started to increase by mid January with restrictions being relaxed and travel increased over the Christmas holidays and the January 14-17 long weekend.
Herath complained that, in the absence of restrictions, the public has started to flout COVID-19 protocols.
“We see the public is increasingly neglecting to follow the guidelines. Relaxing restrictions doesn’t mean the protocols no longer apply,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) called for legal action against those who do not wear masks or follow other COVID-19 protocols.
“If the guidelines aren’t followed, history may repeat itself and we will again find ourselves in a very bad situation,” GMOA member Dr Prasad Colombage told reporters on Friday, calling for legal action to be instituted against violators under Sri Lanka’s quarantine law.
With another 23 deaths confirmed on Thursday, the country’s COVID-19 death toll has increased to 15,369.
The recent increase in daily cases has been attributed to a surprising hesitance to get the booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Urging the public to get the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, Dr Hearth a higher immunity level can prevent transmission.
“It is scientifically proven that a person that has been fully vaccinated has a lower chance of having symptoms, severe conditions and death compared to an unvaccinated person,” Herath said.
“And having a high immunity results in having less symptoms which reduces the risk of transmitting or spreading the virus to another person,” he said.
Fully vaccinated close contacts of confirmed patients can go about their day without being quarantine if they don’t show symptoms, said Herath.
Meanwhile, Senior Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Castle Street hospital for Women, Dr Sanath Lanerolle urged pregnant women to get the vaccine and the booster as infections among pregnant women have increased over the past few weeks.
“It is important that a medical checkup is done if you have any fever or other COVID symptoms,” he said.
There is no scientific evidence that the booster dose affects the child in the womb, said Lanerolle.
“There are misconceptions that the booster dose will affect the child in the womb. But so far there is no scientific evidence to say it will affect the baby, so I kindly request all pregnant women who are eligible get the booster dose to go and get it without any further delay,” he said.
So far, 16.5 million Sri Lankans have received at least a single dose of a vaccine while 13.5 million people have received the first two doses. Friday also marked exactly after a year since the island nation began its vaccine rollout.
However, only five million have been jabbed with the booster dose so far. (Colombo/Jan28/2022)