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Don’t focus on variants, but on general pandemic control: Dr. Hemantha Herath

02 Dec 2021

  • Health Ministry notes Omicron’s entry may be delayed, but cannot be made impossible 
BY Buddhika Samaraweera The Health Ministry has stated that in the current situation, it is more important to take necessary steps to protect against the Covid-19 pandemic in general than to look out for each Covid-19 variant. Speaking at a media briefing held yesterday (1), the Health Ministry’s Communications Director, Public Health Services Deputy Director General (DDG), and Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Head Dr. Hemantha Herath said: “The most important thing in this situation is to take the necessary steps to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic in general, rather than to find out whether it is the Omicron variant or not.” He also said that since a large number of people from South African countries do not come to Sri Lanka, there may be a delay for the Omicron Covid-19 variant to enter the country or for infections of the said variant of concern (VOC) to be reported. However, he pointed out that it is not possible to say that it would not enter the country at all. Dr. Herath, on Tuesday (30 November), noted that no matter what variant enters the country, it will only spread if the people do not follow the health guidelines. Therefore, if everyone follows the health guidelines, he said that the spread of this variant can be minimised. Even if it spreads, the adverse consequences of it can be minimised by adhering to the health guidelines, he added. In view of the Omicron variant, the Sri Lankan authorities have banned the arrival of foreign travellers who have been to six countries in the African Continent, including South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini (Swaziland), within the past 14 days. However, when inquired as to whether the Health Ministry was taking steps to impose a ban on travellers who have been to other countries where cases of the Omicron variant have been reported, Dr. Herath, on 28 November, said: “A final decision has not been reached regarding the imposition of such a ban. However, the matter is constantly being analysed.”

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