Special Committee on COVID-19 Control decided on Friday to chalk out a set of regulations that will define the “new normal” when the country-wide lockdown is lifted at 4 am on October 1.

These regulations will ensure safeguards against the COVID-19 virus even as the economy is opened to set the wheels of industry and commerce moving again after a gap of a year and a half.

The plan will be prepared by 3 relevant authorities covering three areas. Under the guidance of the Health Ministry and health specialists committees, the Ministry of Public Administration will issue recommendations on how to maintain services in the public sector. The Ministry of Transport will issue recommendations with regard to public transport and the Ministry of Labor will issue recommendations on how to maintain services in the private sector.

Dire Economic Situation

The chairman of the meeting, Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa said that economic growth rate,which was 12.3% in the second quarter of 2021 fell to 1% in the third quarter due to the island-wide lockdown.

He explained the need to work towards a 3% rate of growth in the 4th quarter. That would help maintain the country’s overall annual economic growth rate at 5% this year.

The opening of schools was also discussed at length and the relevant recommendations of health specialists committee were forwarded to the Ministry of Education. Basil Rajapaksa instructed concerned officials to refer the recommendations directly to the Governors and the Provincial Directors of Health.

International organizations, including UNICEF, as well as pediatricians in the country, have pointed out that it is not necessary to wait until the vaccination program ends to open schools. Specialists pointed out that schools and pre-schools should be reopened as soon as possible to ensure the uninterrupted education of children, and that proper health recommendations should be followed in this regard.

It was also decided to get the direct assistance of local government bodies and Regional Development Committees in cleaning and disinfection schools.

The importance of Ayurvedic post-COVID-19 treatment centers was  emphasized. The  establishment of new Ayurvedic post-COVID-19 treatment centers in tourist zones aimed at promoting the tourism was discussed. There is a huge international demand for Lankan indigenous medicines in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Attention was also drawn to formulation of a plan to remove existing barriers to exporting medicinal products.

State Minister Sisira Jayakody stated that the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine has made all arrangements to provide indigenous immune strengthening medicines to all families in the country free of charge. He further said that LKR 6,000 million has been allocated for this purpose.

Minister Prasanna Ranatunga pointed out that there was no truth in the rumors that there was a delay in the PCR tests on locals and foreign tourists entering the country at the Colombo airport. A newly established test center will start functioning from Saturday. Foreign tourists will be directed to hotels of their choice without any detention after being subjected to the PCR testand Sri Lankans will be sent to their homes.

PCR test results will be issued in approximately 02-03 hours. If the result confirms that a person is infected with COVID, the relevant Public Health Inspector will issue guidelines.

Vaccination of children with congenital diseases, who are between the ages of 12 and 19, commenced on Friday at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children, Colombo, and also the Anuradhapura and Kurunegala General Hospitals, said Specialist Dr. PrasannaGunasena.

He pointed out that there is a renewed interest in vaccination among the public which is a positive development. Young people in the age group of 20-29 years have also volunteered for vaccination.



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