Colombo, December 21 (Daily Mirror) – Sri Lankan authorities have gone on alert over the new strain of COVID-19 which scientists have warned is spreading rapidly in the UK, causing more serious illness, the Daily Mirror learns.
Health officials from the Ministry of Health said they were monitoring the situation closely and had been updated of the new variant through the WHO website and although there was no cause for immediate concern, authorities here were on alert.
“We are on alert but we have not officially declared anything because Sri Lanka is only receiving repatriation flights coming in from the UK, bringing in the local nationals who are working there. Anyway, they go into quarantine for 14 days,” a senior Health Ministry official told Daily Mirror.
“Once we open the airport only we have a little bit of a risk but other than that there will not be any problem at the moment. However we are on alert,” the official added.
Sri Lanka is all set to open the Bandaranaike International Airport on Dec. 26 and will soon welcome tourists into the country under strict health guidelines.
The WHO in a message on its official Twitter account said yesterday they were in close contact with the UK officials on the new COVID-19 virus and they will continue to share information and results of their analysis and ongoing studies. “We’ll update Member States and public as we learn more about the characteristics of this virus variant and any implications,” the WHO said.
“In the meantime, we continue to advise people to take all protective measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and comply with national authorities’ guidance,” the WHO said.
Countries such as the Netherlands has already introduced a ban on passenger flights from the UK because of the new variant which will remain in place till Jan 1. (jamila Husain)