The Special Committee on COVID-19 Control decided to devise a comprehensive plan on the health recommendations and restrictions that need to be imposed on reopening the country with the lifting of the curfew.
The plan will be prepared by 3 relevant authorities covering three areas. Under the guidance of the Health Ministry and the 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.
These decisions were taken at the online meeting of the Special Committee on COVID-19 Control chaired by Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa yesterday (24).
Minister Rajapaksa said the fullest support of the public health inspectors, local political authorities, rural development committees and the media should be sought when implementing the plan.
Mr. Rajapaksa pointed out that all sectors should work together to continue the country’s economic process under the ‘new normal’ concept in the face of the Covid-19 challenge. He said that the economic growth rate which was maintained at 12.3% during the second quarter of 2021 fell down to 1% during the third quarter due to the lockdown imposed in the country and therefore, he explained the need to work towards the target of maintaining the country’s economic growth rate at 3% in the 4th quarter. He expressed optimism that this 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 the health specialists committee have been forwarded to the Ministry of Education. Mr Rajapaksa also instructed the relevant officials to refer the recommendations directly to the Governors and the Provincial Directors of Health.
International organizations on children, including UNICEF, as well as paediatricians in the country, have pointed out that it is not necessary to wait until the vaccination programme ends to open schools. The specialists pointed out that schools and pre-schools should be reopened as soon as possible to ensure the uninterrupted education of the children and that proper health recommendations should be followed in this regard. The specialists also said the commitment and care of the parents are also vital in this.
It was also decided to get the direct assistance of the local government bodies and Regional Development Committees in cleaning and disinfection of schools.
The importance of the Ayurvedic post-COVID-19 treatment centres was also emphasized and the establishment of new Ayurvedic post-COVID-19 treatment centres in the tourist zones aimed at promoting the tourism industry was also discussed.
There is a huge international demand for local medicines in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The attention was drawn to formulate a direct plan to remove existing barriers in exporting medicinal products.