A letter signed by the Department’s Professor Neelika Malavige and Director Chandima Jeewandara on Sunday, said the six variants were found in samples from patients sent to them as of April 30….reports Asian Lite News
Sri Lankan health experts have said a total of six Covid-19 variants have been identified in the island nation amid an ongoing resurgence of new cases.
The coronavirus variants, including the more contagious B.1.617 first reported in India, were identified by the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, reports Xinhua news agency.
A letter signed by the Department’s Professor Neelika Malavige and Director Chandima Jeewandara on Sunday, said the six variants were found in samples from patients sent to them as of April 30.
The health experts said the variant of B.1.617 was detected in a person who recently returned from India and was in a quarantine centre in Colombo.
Jeewandara was quoted by the Sunday Morning newspaper as saying that his Department has also detected 65 cases with the virus variant B.1.1.7 first found in Britain as well as one infection with the B.1.351 strain that originated in South Africa.
Sri Lanka has so far reported 125,906 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 801 deaths.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has started administering the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine against Covid-19 to citizens, soon after the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved it for emergency use worldwide.
The vaccines were administered on Saturday at the Panadura Health Office in Kalutara District, in the outskirts of capital Colombo, an area which has reported a rising number of Covid-19 cases in recent days.
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Speaking at the launch of the vaccination drive, State Minister of Production, Supply, and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Channa Jayasumana thanked the Chinese government for sending the Sinopharm vaccines and said this would add to the efforts of the Sri Lankan government to inoculate at least 70 per cent of its population against the virus by the end of the year.
“Today is a very special day for the Panadura MoH office. We want to thank the Chinese government as well as the WHO for approving the Sinopharm under emergency use. Today we began administering the Sinopharm in the Panadura area and want to thank President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for approving to start this program from the Kalutara district,” Jayasumana said.
State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and Covid Disease Control Sudharshani Fernandopulle, also said at the launch that with the WHO and the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) approving the Sinopharm vaccine under emergency use in Sri Lanka, authorities will now look to get more vaccines from China to vaccinate the local population.
“Today we began administering the Sinopharm vaccine in the Panadura Health office for locals above the age of 30 years and below the age of 60 years. From tomorrow (Sunday) we will also identify the areas which have reported the highest number of Covid-19 patients in recent days and will begin to administer the Sinopharm vaccines in those areas as well,” Fernandopulle said.
She said some of the areas worst affected by the virus were Colombo, Kalutara, Gampaha, Kurunegala, Kandy, and Matale, and authorities were making arrangements to vaccinate the people in these areas as soon as possible.
The Sinopharm vaccines arrived in Sri Lanka last month, under a special grant by the Chinese government to the Health Ministry.