Sri Lanka too poor to lockdown country – Gammanpila

ECONOMYNEXT-Sri Lanka does not have the economic strength to lock down the country because of the emergence of the new Covid 19 variant and increased numbers of patients, Co-Cabinet Spokesman Udaya Gammanpila told reporters today.

Gammanpila addressing the weekly Cabinet press briefing said that in Australia the city of Melbourne was locked-down for the fourth time after they found 13 COVID patients there but in Sri Lanka after a lockdown of two-and-a-half months, the economy collapsed and hundreds of thousands lost their jobs.

“So a country like Sri Lanka which is debt-ridden does not have the economic strength to keep the country under lockdown, even though we want it we don’t have the ability to do that,” He said.

Moreover, he said that the government tries to solve the problem of the COVID-19 pandemic to the possible the extent while keeping the country open

“The challenge we have ahead is to learn to live with the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that IDH is the hospital which has 100% COVID patients but we know that no doctor, nurse or other staff was infected by the virus just because they work at that hospital,” he added.

However, as we have reported before frontline healthcare workers in other hospitals such as Ratnapura and Kandy have been infected.

The Minister said that it shows that if people are careful, they could even stay in a place with COVID patients without getting infected by the virus.

Last week Neelika Malavige, Professor in Microbiology at the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, told EconomyNext that the fast-spreading UK strain was observed in the community toward the end of January this year.

A team of researchers at her university sequenced 92 samples collected in different parts of the island including a number of quarantine centres.

The new strain was detected in samples from Colombo, Avissawella, Biyagama and Vavuniya and some of the quarantine facilities. The university told this website yesterday that it is possible that Sri Lanka’s existing B.1.411 strain could’ve undergone de novo mutation owing to its wide and rapid spread in the country. However, Malavige said today that the source is most likely a returnee from overseas.

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“[The strain] possibly leaked into the community due to some failure in the quarantine process,” she said.

Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product contracted 16.3-pct in the second quarter of 2020 amid Coronavirus lockdowns and recovered to grow 1.5 pct in the third quarter when the lockdown was lifted. (Colombo/Feb16/2021)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe

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