Avoid unnecessary travel: Health Ministry

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

While pointing out that the declining trend of daily Covid-19 infections in the country should be maintained even after reopening the country, the Health Ministry has urged the public to avoid unnecessary travel even after the reopening today (1).

During a media briefing held yesterday (30 September), the media questioned the Health Ministry Communications Director, Public Health Services Deputy Director General (DDG), and the Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Head Dr. Hemantha Herath as to whether the reopening of the country was risky in a context where nearly 1,000 cases of Covid-19 infection are still reported daily.

In response, he said that it is important to work to reopen the country as soon as possible due to the long term disadvantages of the closure of the country. However, Dr. Herath added that it is important to maintain the trend of declining daily Covid-19 infections even after the reopening of the country. “The potential damage to the country from long term closures is immense, and therefore it is important to reopen the country as soon as possible; but even after the country’s reopening, the current trend of a gradual decline in the number of daily infections must continue. Therefore, we urge the people not to travel unless for an essential matter,” he added.

Speaking further, Dr. Herath said that the number of daily Covid-19 infections has come down due to the travel restrictions in the country and the administration of both Covid-19 vaccine doses to a significant number of people. “However, getting the Covid-19 vaccine only gives us some protection and the spread of the pandemic will not stop there. Therefore, everyone should act responsibly,” he noted.

Taking into account the rapid spread of Covid-19 and the increase of the number of Covid-19 deaths in the country, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on 20 August, declared a lockdown status, which has subsequently been extended on multiple occasions, with the latest extension being till 4 a.m. today.

On 29 September, the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of the Covid-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) Head and Army Commander Gen. Shavendra Silva announced that President Rajapaksa had instructed to lift the Island-wide lockdown status, which has been in place for six weeks, at 4 a.m. today.

According to the Epidemiology Unit, as of 10 a.m. yesterday, Sri Lanka has recorded 12,847 Covid-19 deaths while the total number of infections stood at 516,465, of which a total of 457,488 patients have recovered.