UNDP’s ExtremeLives series returns with transformative stories of young people from Lanka and the Maldives – The Island


ECONOMYNEXT – All Coronairus deaths in Colombo are among the unvaccinated and those who did not take a booster until 8 months later, a city health official said as mortality began to climb with the spread of Omicron.

“Among the Covid 19 deaths in Colombo this year, none of them had taken their boosters,” said Ruwan Wijayamuni, chief medical officer of the Colombo City Council Public Health Department.

People who have succumbed to Covid so far this year have not received the vaccine at all, or only the first dose, or have received two doses, but not the booster, Wijayamuni explained. “There was no one among the dead who took the booster dose this year.”

Since the start of the booster dose in July 2021, public participation has been low compared to the deployment of the first and second doses. In the last six months of 2021, only 4,052,911 people received their reminders.

Even during the first weeks of January 2022, the general public was not actively participating in the administration of the third dose.

However, with the number of patients increasing from mid-January, the general public began to receive the booster dose.

In the past few days, more people have taken the booster, with daily consumption rising to more than 90,000 from 20,000 two weeks earlier, the data showed.

In January 2022, health officials injected the booster dose into 1,208,094 people, increasing the number of booster dose recipients in the country.

“We were able to effectively control the third wave,” Wijayamuni said. “However, with the arrival of the Omicron variant in the country, the number of patients started increasing day by day.

“In Sri Lanka, the number of patients has increased by around 15% in recent days. “And deaths in Colombo have increased by 4%.”

Health authorities counted 1,156 patients on Wednesday (02), bringing the number of patients in the country to 613,478. So far, 18,206 patients are receiving treatment at medical centers or the home care system.

With 19 more deaths from Covid 19 reported on Wednesday, the death toll rose to 15,492.

Wijayamuni said that the main reason for these two factors is not taking the booster dose within the prescribed time.

“In Colombo, we administered the first dose to 96% of the eligible population, of whom 88% received the second dose,” Wijayamuni said.

“When we launched the booster dose, at first the general public showed interest in getting vaccinated, but we saw the enthusiasm dwindle over time.”

“We found alternatives to increasing numbers by visiting workplaces and households with older people to administer the vaccine, and also deployed mobile vaccination teams. We have increased the number of people vaccinated each day to around 2,000.”

Wijayamuni also said that the number of vaccinated students in public schools is lower than in private or international schools in the district.

“In private schools we saw over 90% turnout of children to get vaccinated, but the rate in public schools was no more than 50%,” he said.

“We started to run vaccination programs for parents to encourage their children to get vaccinated.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Director General of Health Services Hemantha Herath said the number of people showing up for the recall has increased over the past few days.

On Tuesday (01), 98,775 people received the booster dose, and on Wednesday (03), 96,264.

“At the moment, we have given the booster dose to 37% or 5,468,208 of the target population. If it continues at this rate, we will be able to cover the targeted population very soon,” Herath said.

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