ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is drafting laws to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all citizens eligible for the jab, with plans also under way to replace the physical vaccination card with a mobile application, Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said.
Rambukwella told reporters on Thursday (09) that the app should be available to the public over the next two to three months.
“The initial steps are already complete,” he said.
Health Promotion Bureau Director Dr Ranjith Batuwanthudawa, meanwhile, said the health ministry is also discussing moves to only allow tourists and returnees who are already vaccinated into the country.
The announcement came after reports a Sri Lankan returnee from Nigeria who had tested positive for the Omicron variant of COVID-19 had not been vaccinated due to her religious beliefs. According to that Public Health Inspectors (PHI) Union President Upul Rohana, she is currently receiving treatment while her close contacts are being traced, he said.
Currently, unvaccinated tourists and returnees can arrive in Sri Lanka but have to undergo 14 days of quarantine.
“So far vaccination is not mandatory to come into the country. A negative PCR test which is taken 48 hours before departure is mandatory and anyone who has not been vaccinated must take a PCR test and wait at a quarantine facility until the results are issued,” Batuwanthudawa said.
“They may leave the facility only if the test comes back negative,” he added.
Batuwanthudawa further said so far only one patient has been identified to be infected with the new variant. Gene sequencing tests of samples obtained from her close contacts should be completed by the end of the week, he said. c(Colombo/Dec10/2021)