Health Minister Addresses Covid Variant Concerns
January 03, Colombo (LNW): Minister of Health Ramesh Pathirana reassured the public about the Ministry’s vigilant monitoring of the emerging JN.1 Covid variant reported from India. At a press conference held at the Presidential Media Center, he confirmed that no cases have been reported from conducted sample tests thus far. However, he urged the public to maintain the health protocols established during the previous Covid seasons.
Amid discussions on the new variant, Minister Pathirana highlighted that the World Health Organization hasn’t raised undue concerns, emphasizing ongoing surveillance and extensive testing by the Medical Research Institute.
Addressing the measles resurgence, the Minister announced the finalization of preparations for a nationwide vaccination program. This initiative, scheduled to begin the following week, will be administered through Medical Officer of Health (MOH) Offices across the country.
He underscored the Ministry’s commitment to providing advanced medicines under the free health service, acknowledging past shortages due to the pandemic’s economic impact. Efforts to expedite medicine procurement and digitize the procurement process were highlighted as key strategies for future transparency and efficiency.
Furthermore, Minister Pathirana revealed President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s allocation of funds in the current budget to enhance the quality control laboratory of the NMRA. Structural enhancements and capacity building are anticipated in the coming year.
Highlighting the need for collective action against dengue, he emphasized a community-driven environment-cleaning program involving security forces to control the disease.
Despite Sri Lanka’s recognition by the World Health Organization for measles eradication, Minister Pathirana acknowledged around 700 reported cases last year. To address this, plans have been made to provide measles immunization vaccines through all Medical Officers of Health offices nationwide, encouraging parents to ensure their children receive necessary immunization.