Health sector ready for probable COVID-19 vaccine | Daily News
Health Minister tells Parliament:

Health sector ready for probable COVID-19 vaccine

‘Don’t politicise Coronavirus issue’

The Health Ministry is preparing the health sector for a potential new vaccine for COVID 19 on the instructions of the World Health Organization (WHO), Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told Parliament yesterday.

She said the WHO has informed her that a new viable COVID-19 vaccine approved by the WHO could be potentially made available in the near future and that the country should be ready for it. “So we are preparing the health sector for such a programme,” the Health Minister said.

She added that the measures in respect of COVID-19 are taken on the instructions of the health sector. Although the Opposition queries as to why the country was not locked down earlier, it was done on the guidelines of the capable health sector experts who have by now gained more experience than on the first occasion compared with the global scenario.

She added that the country cannot take unilateral decisions on this matter as this is a global pandemic.

The Health Minister made these observations yesterday in her reply to the Adjournment Motion moved by JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

The GMOA has released a statement stating that it cannot declare the country had reached a COVID-19 community transmission level.

They had pointed out that it has to be declared by the Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry in accordance with the UN standards as it has a technical definition. “So don’t politicise this matter,” the Health Minister requested the Opposition.

She said that the Government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with health sector staff, Tri-Forces personnel and the Police have taken commendable efforts than most of the developed and European countries. She said the number of COVID-19 deaths as a percentage of the population in Sri Lanka is 0.00007 percent while the figure in the UK, US, Australia and India is 0.065, 0.069, 0.0004 and 0.008 percent respectively. She added that the death rate as a proportion to the COVID-19 patients in Sri Lanka is 0.22 percent while the rates of India, USA and Italy, are 1.51, 2.65 and 8.45 percent respectively.

Minister Wanniarachchi said it was Sri Lanka that conducted the first PCR test in the South Asian region and the country could do only 200 tests in March whereas it has the capacity for 8,000 tests a day.

“We had only one hospital to treat such patients and now we have 30 hospitals,” the Minister said. “We had only 150 beds for such patients in March and now we have 3,500. We had one lab in March and we have 26 labs now.”

She said that Sri Lanka’s quarantine centres are much better than others anywhere in the world. “There are 85 quarantine centres housing 10,000 people by now,” the Health Minister said. “We hospitalize all the patients whereas other countries ask the patients to stay at home. Not only that we send all first and second contacts to quarantine centres.”

She added that the Government has taken commendable measures to combat COVID 19, and yielded good results.