News

Covid-19 regulations: Options explored to ban unvaccinated persons from public spaces

 

  • Concerns over new sub-variants continue
  • Covid cluster regions to get booster priority

 

By Aazam Ameen

Legal experts at the Ministry of Health are studying methods of restricting and prohibiting those who have not been fully vaccinated, from public spaces, The Sunday Morning learnt.

The move follows the Attorney General’s (AG) Department informing Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella on 8 November that it was legally possible to prohibit access to public spaces by those who were eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccines, but were not fully vaccinated.

The Government is exploring such restrictions in the backdrop of new sub lineage B.1.617.2.104 of the Covid-19 Delta variant being detected in a sample of 650 vaccinated and unvaccinated persons last week.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning, Ministry of Health Communications Director and Deputy Director General of Public Health Services Dr. Hemantha Herath said that all possibilities and potential issues with regard to such regulations were being explored.

“As of now, there are no updates or developments on this matter. Our legal experts are working on this, and they will come out with their recommendations before preparing the gazette notification,” he said.

When queried on how long this process will take, Dr. Herath was unable to provide The Sunday Morning with a concrete timeline.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka last Wednesday (17) commenced the rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as a booster dose to citizens over the age of 60.

Dr. Herath explained that this age group continues to remain the only priority group eligible for the booster dose, apart from frontline and medical staff. 

In terms of the geographic locales in which the booster shot will be administered, according to a statement made by State Minister of Production, Supply, and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Prof. Channa Jayasumana, it will be carried out in the Western and Southern Provinces as well as in the Anuradhapura and Ampara Districts. Dr. Herath explained that these regions were chosen due to the emergence of Covid-19 clusters within.

“We have seen a few clusters in these areas, especially in Ampara. However, we will gradually expand the booster administration drive to other districts as well,” he stated. 

Last Thursday (19), another sub lineage of the Covid-19 Delta variant was detected in Sri Lanka, according to a tweet by Sri Jayewardenepura University Allergy, Immunology, and Cell Biology Unit Director Dr. Chandima Jeewandara. It was identified as B.1.617.2.104.

This development came following the detection of the B.1.617.2.28 sub lineage of the Delta variant in late September.