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Low risk for new variants to enter: Dr. Jeewandara

By Aazam Ameen

The risk of new variants of Covid-19 entering Sri Lanka, given that the country’s doors are now open for tourism, remains low, The Sunday Morning learnt.

Speaking to The Sunday Morning, University of Sri Jayewardenepura Allergy Immunology and Cell Biology Unit Director Dr. Chandima Jeewandara explained that this was due to the high global prevalence of the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant of Covid-19.

“There are no new variants. Only the Delta and Delta Plus variants are currently observed. Even the Delta Plus variant is not significant, as no concrete evidence has been presented with regard to its structure,” he said.

Dr. Jeewandara also confirmed that, to date, the Delta Plus variant was not detected by the university’s Allergy Immunology and Cell Biology Unit laboratory.

Despite this, the unit continues to conduct regular sequencing runs of PCR test samples, with the most recent one conducted last Thursday (21). Dr. Jeewandara said the results of the same will be available in a few days.

When queried on his input about the current Covid-19 situation in the country, Dr. Jeewandara was of the opinion that Sri Lanka was faring well compared to other countries.

“I think we are doing fairly well compared to other countries which have high numbers of Delta infections. The number of deaths in Sri Lanka is comparatively low. However, we must not forget the nearly 13,000 lives which were lost,” he said.

He also added that Sri Lanka’s current standing was a result of its strong vaccination drive.

Meanwhile, as authorities gear up to administer Pfizer-BioNTech booster doses, medical experts, speaking to The Sunday Morning, opined that the rollout of booster doses should not happen across all demographics.

“Available data shows that booster doses should be administered to only those above the age of 60 and those who have comorbidities or are at high risk. It is not for the younger and healthy populations as yet,” Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) President Dr. LakKumar Fernando told The Sunday Morning.

This came in the backdrop of National Operation Centre for Prevention of Covid Outbreak (NOCPCO) Head and Army Commander Gen. Shavendra Silva announcing on Friday (22) that health, tri-forces, and police personnel as well as those engaged in the tourism sector and frontline workers will be administered the Pfizer-BioNTech booster dose after 1 November.

AMS warns of Covid surge

The Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) warned of a Covid resurgence yesterday (23).

In a media release issued yesterday (23), the AMS predicted a resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic, citing irresponsible behaviour of some and the relaxing of Covid-related regulations.  

Whilst commending the Government and other active participants in Covid control efforts for their untiring efforts in steering Sri Lanka to achieve a common goal of a Covid-free Sri Lanka, the AMS also stated that the irresponsible and complacent attitude of some groups disheartened civic-minded society, who can sense the threat of another surge of Covid-19. 

The media release also stated that such behaviour not only undermines what has already been achieved, but also sends wrong signals to the rest of the general public to follow. The AMS further said that if people continue to behave irresponsibly, another wave of Covid-19 will be inevitable. 

“We all should understand that this will be the last nail on the coffin of an already battered economy of the country,” the statement read. 

The body of medical specialists urged all citizens, political parties, and other organisations to join hands to see an end to the Covid-19 menace with responsible behaviour during this post-Covid critical period.