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Which variant causing Covid deaths yet unclear

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Health Ministry is currently uncertain which of the Covid-19 variants, namely, Omicron (B.1.1.529) or Delta (B.1.617.2), is the major cause of Covid-19 infection-related deaths at present.

Speaking at a media briefing held yesterday (31 January), Health Ministry Communications Director, Public Health Services Deputy Director General (DDG), and Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Head Dr. Hemantha Herath said that it is very difficult to identify the Covid-19 variant that causes deaths among the Covid-19 infected.

“It will be required to refer all the Covid-19 deaths for genetic sequencing in order to detect the Covid-19 variant that caused them, but that is not something that can be done in practice. However, we know that the vast majority of Covid-19-infected patients in the country at the moment are infected with the Omicron variant,” he said.

Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) Director Dr. Ranjith Batuwanthudawa on 28 January said that it had been confirmed by laboratory tests that 95% of the Covid-19 positive patients have been infected with the Omicron variant.

The number of Covid-19 infections reported daily in Sri Lanka has increased significantly over the past few days. Over the past few weeks, 600 to 700 cases of Covid-19 infections have been reported daily. However, the Health Ministry announced that a total of 1,056 persons have tested positive for Covid-19 on 30 January. With that, the country’s daily count of new Covid-19 cases surpassed 1,000 for the first time since the end of September 2021.

According to the Epidemiology Unit, as of 6.55 p.m. yesterday, Sri Lanka had recorded 15,441 Covid-19 deaths while the total number of infections stood at 611,185, of which a total of 578,432 patients had recovered.