Sept 24, Colombo: With the lifting of the quarantine curfew planned on October 1st, the Special Committee on COVID-19 Control has decided to draw up a comprehensive plan on the health recommendations and restrictions to be imposed when the country is reopened.
The plan is being prepared under three sectors. Ministry of Public Administration for implementing the mechanism of the public sector, Ministry of Transport for Public Transport and Ministry of Labor for maintaining Private Sector Services, will make recommendations under the guidance of Health Expert Committees and the Ministry of Health.
These decisions were taken at the Special Committee on COVID-19 Control meeting chaired by Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa this morning (24) through video technology.
Mr. Rajapaksa said the full support of public health inspectors, local political authorities, rural development committees and the media should be sought in implementing the plan.
Mr. Rajapaksa pointed out that all sectors should work together to continue the country’s economic process under the new normalcy in the face of the Covid Challenge.
He said the economy was able to maintain a growth rate of 12.3% in the second quarter of 2021 but fell to 1% in the third quarter due to the closure of the country. He described the need to work towards the target of maintaining the country’s economic growth at 3% in the fourth quarter, despite the decline. He hoped that this would help maintain the country’s overall annual economic growth rate of 5% this year.
The opening of schools was also discussed at length and the recommendations of the Health Expert Committee have been forwarded to the Ministry of Education. Mr. Rajapaksa also instructed the relevant officials to refer the recommendations directly to the Governors and the Provincial Directors of Health.
International organizations on children, including UNICEF, as well as pediatricians in Sri Lanka have pointed out that it is not necessary to wait until the end of vaccination to open schools. The specialists pointed out that schools and pre-schools should be reopened as soon as possible to ensure the uninterrupted education of the children and that proper health recommendations should be followed. The commitment and care of the parents is very important.
It was also decided to get the direct involvement of local government bodies and regional development committees in school cleaning and disinfection.
The importance of the Ayurvedic Post Covid Treatment Centers system was also emphasized and the establishment of new Ayurvedic Post Covid Treatment Centers in tourist areas aimed at promoting the tourism industry was also discussed.
There is a huge international demand for local medicines in the face of the Covid epidemic. Attention was also drawn to the formulation of a direct plan to remove existing barriers to drug exports.
State Minister of Indigenous Medicine Promotion, Rural and Ayurveda Hospital Development and Community Sisira Jayakody said the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine has made all arrangements to provide the medicine box containing local immune enhancers which is planned to be distributed free of charge to households island wide and Rs. 6 billion has been allocated for this purpose.
Pointing out that there is no truth in the rumors that there is a delay in the PCR tests for local and foreign tourists entering the country from the airport, Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said with the commencement of operations of the new test center tomorrow, the work will be more efficient.
Foreign tourists are directed to the hotel of their choice without any detention after being subjected to the PCR test and Sri Lankans will be sent to their homes. If a person is confirmed to be infected with Covid, according to the results of the PCR test, which will be released in about 02-03 hours, the relevant Public Health Inspector will issue notifications and quarantine instructions.
The success of the current vaccination was also reviewed at length and the vaccination for children between the ages of 12 and 19 with congenital diseases was launched today at the Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital, Colombo, Anuradhapura and Kurunegala General Hospitals, said Dr. Prasanna Gunasena.
He pointed out that there is a strong interest in vaccination among the people as a whole and it is a positive development that young people in the age group of 20-29 years have also volunteered to get the vaccine.
Ministers Keheliya Rambukwella, Bandula Gunawardena, Dullas Alahapperuma, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, State Ministers Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Sisira Jayakody, and Channa Jayasumana, Member of Parliament Madura Vithanage, Health Secretary Major General Specialist Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Director General of Health Services Dr. Asela Gunawardena, Commanders of the three Armed Forces, IGP and members of the Special Committee for the Covid Control, Provincial and Regional Health Directors were also present on the occasion.