A discussion is to be held to decide if an island-wide lockdown should be enforced after the new variant of the coronavirus was detected in Colombo and other parts of the country.
The Sunday Times reported that the matter will be discussed tomorrow (Monday) when the National Operations Centre meets.
“No decision on a lockdown has been taken so far. The matter is due to be taken up tomorrow for discussion by the National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak,” The Sunday Times quoted Police Spokesman and Deputy Inspector General Ajith Rohana as saying.
Deputy Director- General of Public Health Services Dr. Hemantha Herath said the Epidemiology Unit was studying the situation and would decide on the course of action which should be taken.
With Valentine’s Day today and a long weekend on the cards end-February, DIG Rohana said that as yet, the normal quarantine and disease control regulations would be applied.
Dr. Herath cautioned everyone to strictly adhere “more than 100%” to the health precautions of mask-wearing, social-distancing and hand-washing, while avoiding mass gatherings which could lead to a super-spreader event, The Sunday Times reported.
With regard to the UK variant (B.1.1.7), he said that though it spreads fast, it does not cause more severe infection than the strains that are circulating in the country already.
On Friday, Sri Jayewardenepura University researchers performed genetic sequencing on a large number of samples (92) collected from December 30 onwards and found the UK variant in several areas.
“Our data show that this B.1.1.7 variant was in the community in Colombo as early as December 30. Therefore, it is most likely to have been introduced somewhere in early or mid-December, with the most likely source being a returnee from overseas,” said Prof. Neelika Malavige, Head of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Sciences, of the university, adding that now “we see this variant in many areas in Sri Lanka”.
She said the rise in the number of cases, especially in the recent weeks, was likely to be due to the spread of this variant, as this was 50 percent more transmissible than the earlier variants.