ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is tracing passengers who arrived from high risk countries in the last 14 days before it imposed a travel ban on November 28 on six African countries where the newest ‘variant of concern’ Omicron emerged.
State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control Dr Sudarshini Fernandopulle informed parliament of the decision on Tuesday (30).
“The Omicron strain has been detected in more than 15 countries,” she told parliament.
Sri Lanka on Saturday (27) imposed a travel ban on countries where the virus was first detected, namely – South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Fernandopulle said that it’s still too early to comment on the efficacy of currently available COVID-19 vaccines as the World Health Organisation (WHO) is still investigating transmissibility, severity and other attributes of the new variant.
She added that Sri Lanka’s health authorities are managing patients at the same level it did prior to the discovery of the Omicron strain while PCR and gene sequencing tests continue.
Sri Lanka has already rolled out a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people over the age of 60 and for the island’s frontline workers. So far 521,483 have got the booster shot.
Officials said travel guidelines will not be changed and banning the high risk countries at the moment is sufficient.
The WHO warned that the variant is high-risk given its characteristics which may result in a surge of COVID-19 infections if precautions aren’t taken. (Colombo/Nov30/2021)