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Draft a law to suppress Covid-19 until vaccination drive is complete: Ranil

Leader of the United National Party (UNP) Ranil Wickremesinghe today (30) stated that all persons in Sri Lanka must commit themselves to the eradication of Covid-19 by complying with the health regulations until the vaccination drive is complete.

He also urged the President and the Cabinet to create a draft law to suppress Covid-19 by adhering to special health guidelines until the vaccination drive is complete.

“To date we have not passed any legislation to control the pandemic. Other countries in the world are making the necessary laws and enforcing them,” he stated while addressing the media.

He said that the Cabinet, headed by the President, should now prepare a draft with a set of common policies to control the pandemic.

“No one else should be allowed to coordinate this. Discuss this Cabinet-led draft with non-government party leaders and the Opposition in Parliament and seek their views. All opposition parties should submit proposals and help. I think it is important to discuss this with those in the medical field and with experts, including business people.
The country will be able to submit a draft agreement that will be agreed upon by all within a month once all the discussions have taken place. Legislation to control pandemic can be passed under this,” he stated.

Wickremesinghe also thanked the doctors, nurses, researchers, public health inspectors, junior staff as well as the Grama Niladharis, Armed Forces and the Police who have dedicated themselves to the people of Sri Lanka since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

“Our health workers are tired today because they have continually worked for the past year. It is dangerous to continue this way. The Health Sector has reached its tipping point. The only way to protect them is to set a common set of principles that everyone will accept. Only through such a plan can we halt this situation,” he said.

He pointed out that the government still does not accept medical advice issued by experts and urged them to do so.

“Also, our country has not yet received the required number of vaccines. As soon as the Minister of Health announced that she would sign an agreement to obtain the vaccine last November, the Pfizer Vaccine Company submitted its proposals. But it did not work. Unfortunately, it was not until seven months later that the government focused seriously on the vaccination program. This is a great crime,” he said.

He pointed out that if the authorities buy the vaccine now, it will have to be done by an authorized representative of the company. He urged the Government not to use the vaccination program as an opportunity for middlemen to make money.

He also stated that if the country also starts vaccinating children over 12 years of age, the number of vaccines required for Sri Lanka will increase from 30 million to 35 million.

“Countries that had a surplus of vaccines have decided to donate the surplus to the World Health Organization’s COVAX surplus. The number of vaccines given to COVAX will be further reduced as these countries will now give their doses to children over 12 years of age. With this current situation it is predicted that the vaccination of all of our citizens will be completed by the end of next year. The second dose should be completed as well as the first dose,” he revealed.

He also brought attention to the fact that a large number of people in the country cannot afford to buy food and that there are a large number of people who have lost their sources of income.

“We have to increase the number of treatment centres. The Medical Research Institute for COVID Research should further strengthen the research arm of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. Another laboratory needs to be built for virology research. The existing equipment and facilities in the medical laboratories of the Universities of Colombo, Peradeniya, Ruhuna, Jaffna and Ragama should be further improved. This will enable us to create programs for the suppression of COVID,” he stressed.