President insists Sri Lanka cannot afford another lockdown

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says Sri Lanka cannot afford another lockdown saying it will have extremely detrimental effects on the lives of the people and the economy.

Issuing a statement today, the President said that some sections of society think that the country should be locked down for some time as a solution to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that although such a move may have satisfactory results at the beginning, in the long term it will have extremely detrimental effects on the lives of the people and the economy.

“Developing countries such as Sri Lanka cannot take lockdown measures or impose curfews that obstruct the economic activities of the country. The majority of our country’s income earners depend on informal livelihoods. Therefore, while the Government is fulfilling its responsibilities, the people must fulfil their respective responsibilities and duties for the betterment of the country as well as themselves,” the President said.

He said that only a vaccine can end the COVID-19 pandemic and the Government has a systematic and strong programme in place to vaccinate the public.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa emphasized that in order to overcome this challenge, the people must strictly follow all the rules and regulations recommended by the health authorities, as they did during the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic.

He said that the Government has made arrangements to import four of the COVID-19 vaccines currently approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and to be approved in the near future by the WHO.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been administered to 925,242 people and the second dose of the vaccine is scheduled to be given in the first week of May. The second dose will be given to 356,000 people, including frontline health officials and tri-forces and police officers engaged in the control of COVID-19 epidemic. The government is now in talks with pharmaceutical firms who produce the AstraZeneca vaccine to meet the remaining demand.

“200,000 doses of the Russian made “Sputnik” Covid-19 vaccine will be available by the end of April, while 400,000 doses in May, 800,000 doses in June and 1,200,000 doses in July will be available in the country. The Cabinet approval has already been granted to import 13 million doses of Sputnik vaccine,” he said.

The President also said that plans are already underway to distribute 600,000 doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines donated by China to the people of Sri Lanka in the next few weeks with the approval of the World Health Organization.

In addition, the State Pharmaceutical Corporation has already signed the preliminary agreements required for the importation of the Pfizer vaccine and the Government is in the process of importing the vaccine as soon as possible.

The President noted that the Head of the World Health Organization had reiterated in Geneva yesterday (24) that adherence to basic public health guidelines is the backbone of the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

He said that properly wearing a face mask, occasional hand washing with soap or hand disinfectants, the practice of social distancing, and avoidance of non-essential events are among the most important. (Colombo Gazette)

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