Sri Lanka scrambles to boost mask output as pharmacies run dry
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has asked domestic producers to boost the output of masks officials said as pharmacies ran dry after health authorities said a tourist from China has tested positive for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
“We have asked domestic producers to increase output as much as possible,” Bhadrani Jayawardena, Secretary of the Ministry of Health told reporters in Colombo.
“They are also running out of raw material which they have to get from China.”
Several parties have offered to import masks but the National Medicinal Regulatory Authority requires pre-registration and approvals, Health Minister Pavithra Wanniaarchchi said.
“We are trying to speed up approvals,” she said. “There are laws that have to be complied with.”
Health Services Director General Anil Jasinghe said masks were useful but people should wash hands regularly, avoid touching their noses and eyes and stay out of public functions as far as possible.
“If you can postpone public functions it may be useful,” he said.
He called on the public not to panic.
Sri Lanka said Monday a Chinese tourist from Hubei province tested positive for coronavirus.
Sri Lanka said it was tightening visas for citizens from some areas of China and automatic electronic travel authorization has been suspended.
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Sri Lanka and India’s Pune have labs which can test for the virus, Jasinghe said. (Colombo/Jan28/2020)