On Friday, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced a 10 day nation wide lockdown as a measure to curb the increasing spread of the coronavirus. Keheliya Rambukwella, the Health Minister shared the guidelines in detail with respect to the lockdown. The strict steps aim at curtailing the movement of people as well as increasing the number of vaccinated residents. According to the Reuters Global COVID Tracker, an average of 3,897 cases are being reported in Sri Lanka daily, which is the double of the status earlier.
On 16th August, the former Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi was replaced by Keheliya Rambukwella after a public criticism of the management of the pandemic in the country.
Last month, a survey was done to evaluate the cause behind the rising cases in Sri Lanka. It was inferred that 95% of the infected people were not vaccinated. Thus, a vaccination drive was launched with a new zeal and a list was prepared for those who had not received the jab.
The Special Committee on Prevention of Covid-19 Outbreak has been involved in vaccination drives and other ways to improve the condition. There were many discussions on the provision of mandatory vaccine certificates to move around in the country and come out in the public space. Presently there is a ban on inter province travel and offices are operating with the work from home facility. The certificates are expected to be compulsory from 15th September 2021.
The number of cases infected with the Delta variant in Sri Lanka are rising and so is the death toll. That has led to a crisis situation in terms of medical facilities and supplies. The doctors and medical associations warned the authorities about the approaching saturation in terms of the hospital beds and other provisions. In July 2021, Sri Lanka received 1.5 million doses of the Moderna Covid 19 vaccines and 728,000 doses of Astra Zeneca through the COVAX facility.
India too stepped ahead to help the situation and two vessels INS Shakti and SLNS Shakthi carried 140 tonnes of oxygen to Colombo from Vizag and Chennai this week. The Hindustan Times reported that a Chinese pharmaceutical company plans to set up a vaccine plant in Sri Lanka. A deal between the Sri Lanka’s State Pharmaceutical Corporation and China’s Sinovac Biotech is on the table. China and Sri Lanka are looking at deepening their vaccine diplomacy.
As Sri Lanka tightens the regulations, the hope is that the numbers will get under control and the vaccine drive will help improve the situation.