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Rise in Covid-19 cases

  • A fallout of the festive season: Health authorities

By Aazam Ameen

Health authorities have so far not observed a major outbreak of Covid-19 following the festive season, The Sunday Morning learns. However, an increase in the confirmed number of new patients with the virus has been reported.   

Speaking to The Sunday Morning, Ministry of Health Deputy Director General of Public Health Services Dr. Hemantha Herath stated that the public had been warned in advance. 

“Since Christmas there has been a lot of movement among people. We warned that such behaviour would lead to an increase in cases,” he said. 

Nevertheless, Dr. Herath noted that Sri Lanka was yet to experience a major outbreak and drew comparisons with situations in other countries. “In other countries, the entry of the Omicron variant has resulted in a drastic increase in cases. Even though the variant was detected in Sri Lanka and several other countries simultaneously, we are yet to experience such high numbers,” Dr. Herath explained. 

He also stressed that this did not mean Sri Lanka would continue at this manageable pace in terms of caseloads. 

When asked about the Omicron variant’s behaviour in Sri Lanka, Dr. Herath explained that it was difficult to comment because the number of reported cases here were not significant. “Omicron cases in Sri Lanka represent a very small number. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to generalise and come to conclusions on how the variant behaves. What we have learnt from the rest of the world is that it is highly contagious but does not cause severe disease or death in most cases,” he told The Sunday Morning

Speaking on the reluctance among the public to obtain the booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, Dr. Herath said that public interest seemed to be picking up. “On 20 January alone, nearly 25,000 people obtained the booster dose, which is comparatively high when analysing the demand when it was first introduced.” 

He remarked that the initial public resistance to obtain the booster dose was caused by the spread of misinformation about complications which could arise after obtaining the booster. 

“There were so many misconceptions; people were saying they got paralysed or hospitalised and some even stated that people died soon after the booster. However, when we tried to verify these claims, we could not find a single person who could tie such claims to an incident,” he said. 

However, Dr. Herath did not deny that some adverse effects had been officially reported. 

“Some of the cases we investigated led us to understand that certain adverse reactions were not caused directly by the booster, as such persons had other underlying conditions,” he explained. 

He urged all persons who experience any adverse effects to immediately report the same to area medical officers of health so care could be administered. Commenting on the resumption of school examinations, he added that no additional guidelines were due to be introduced yet and advised students to continue following the published health guidelines.