Support Govt’s COVID-19 prevention programme | Daily News
Pavithra requests political parties, key stakeholders:

Support Govt’s COVID-19 prevention programme

Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi yesterday (13) called on all political parties and key stakeholders to support the Government to control the COVID-19 pandemic and save the country’s economy from collapsing.

The Health Minister was delivering the winding up speech concluding the Adjournment Debate on the COVID-19 pandemic prevailing in the country, as moved by the Opposition.

Health Minister Wanniarachchi pointed out that the role of the Government is to control the COVID-19 pandemic while not allowing the country to collapse economically.

Health Minister Wanniarachchi stated that she has full confidence in health and military authorities to fully control the second wave of the pandemic in the country. “Special mention should be made of the Secretary of Health Ministry, Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe, who leads the administration of the Ministry as a very capable officer. Similarly, the Director General of Health has obtained the highest marks from the selection interview for the DG post.

He is a very capable and honest officer. His contribution to us will be a great strength in the future to control the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.”

The Health Minister explained the multifaceted comprehensive plan that the government has drawn to control the present pandemic. She said the plan focuses on 10 areas for which a division is established to focus on each of these 10 areas. “As a government, we are focusing on 10 areas to combat the epidemic, the first of which is Country Level Coordination Planning and Monitoring. The President appointed a Presidential Task Force to control the pandemic. In addition to this Task Force, I am heading a committee that evaluates, monitors and coordinates the Technical Committees of the Ministry of Health and their reports.”

The Health Minister said, “the President will convene these relevant committees several days a week to take decisions based on the advice of specialists and the Epidemiology Unit. There are a number of technical committees in the Ministry of Health for this purpose. There is a major technical committee consisting of all the colleges or institutes of specialization in the field of surgery, the Institute of Pediatrics, the Institute of General Practitioners, and another technical committee on laboratories. There is another technical committee on cremation of deceased COVID-19 patients. There is also a technical committee on providing professional guidance. There is a technical committee on vaccinations. There is also a technical committee on epidemiology.”

“Then there is the Risk Communication and Community Engagement area. Through this we deal with communication and public participation. Through this we communicate accurate information to the public. If we as a government give wrong information the people will not follow our instructions. I make this an opportunity to thank our public because they cooperate with us and wear masks when told to, stay a meter away, wash hands when told to. Therefore, we have issued guidelines to the public on 52 areas of concern. All these concerned subject areas are coordinated by the Risk Communication and Community Engagement Division,” the Health Minister continued.

Wanniarachchi observed that, “The next area we have focused on is called Surveillance, Rapid Response and Case Investigation. I think only our country and a few countries look for all the relevant connections when a patient is found. It is done by the Epidemiology Division of the Ministry of Health. But it is well supported by state intelligence. For example, we found a patient at Minuwangoda by following a procedure of the Ministry of Health. When 50,000 tests were done in our country for two months, not a single patient was found. However, we had given a directive to all hospitals to carry out the PCR tests on selected patients. The first detected patient of Brandix-cluster is a patient who was examined as a part of this methodology. Then we immediately tested everyone at the Brandix factory in Minuwangoda. In two days these patients were taken to a quarantine centre. By today not a single patient is reported to have a connection to the Minuwangoda cluster. Then the Epidemiology Unit pointed out to us that some of the Brandix-cluster patients have connections to the Peliyagoda fish market. Therefore, we directed our tests there. Large numbers of patients were found. Within two days, everyone was sent to quarantine centers. In particular, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that we are successful in the areas of Surveillance, Rapid Response and Case Investigations.”

The Health Minister also said, “Next focus area is the Points of Entry. Especially when arriving at ports, airports, a person is expected to do a PCR test 72 hours in advance. Also, we do PCR tests at airports and ports. There are only two countries that follow this method. Then there is the focus area concerning the laboratories. The government has deployed about 39 PCR machines by now to carry out tests. There are about nine in the private sector as well. In about five days we can carry out 50,000 tests. Next we have the Infection Prevention and Control area. This division is responsible for providing the required PPE to the staff of the hospitals. And then there is the Space Management Division. This division manages the infected patients. Out of 9200 beds available today, 5969 have been used. Every hospital has a committee of staff, including the head, to look at how to prevent the spread of the disease.”

Wanniarachchi continued, “The next division we have is the Operational Support & Logistics division. This division carries out the relevant purchases that need to be done in relation to controlling the pandemic and this division is gazetted under our State Ministry. When it comes to the antigen test, it is currently before the Technical Evaluation Committee and we are awaiting their guidelines. The Essential Systems Division is focused on improving hospitals to maintain our health services properly.”