The entire COVID-19 vaccination programme will be conducted in a very transparent manner, General Shavendra Silva, Head, National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO), Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army said on Friday, January 29.
He was speaking to the media at the Colombo Army Hospital where a group of Army personnel working in the frontlines against the transmission of COVID-19 were given the first few doses of the vaccine.
The Army Commander said, “the Government of Sri Lanka especially the President initiated action against COVID -19 by appointing a Task Force on January 26, 2020, well before the first patient was found in Sri Lanka. The first Patient was found in Sri Lanka on March 11. Since then, we have been adopting the best strategies and we have managed to curtail the COVID-19 spread from March to April”.
He said however, the cases had gone up after a gap of a few months. “Now we have many cases coming up in the country. However, there are many cases in the world and our efforts to curb the disease has been rated ahead of many other countries,” he noted.
Speaking about the vaccine, he said the President had directed the committee to look into the best vaccine available against the virus.
“We found that there were various categories that needed to be vaccinated. The WHO has agreed to give the vaccine to 20 percent of the population. We started vaccinating the frontliners first at the IDH hospital and the military frontliners, police and those deployed at the airport. The vaccination drive will also take place at Panagoda and seven Government hospitals,” he added.
The island-wide vaccination of Indian-gifted ‘AstraZeneca COVISHIELD’ vaccine began Friday morning (29) at Colombo Army Hospital by giving the first few doses to a representative group of Army personnel working in the frontlines.
Sri Lanka Army personnel, now playing a prominent role in the practice of quarantining vulnerable categories and healing COVID-19 infected persons while actively contributing to arrest its transmission, would accordingly receive the COVID-19 jab through 15 island-wide Military Hospitals, beginning friday (29). After the first dose was administered to Colonel Saveen Semage, Deputy Director, Directorate of Army Preventive Medicine and Mental Health Services, two more frontline Army personnel (Officer and Other Rank) representing the line of command in the organization received their doses.
Major General Senarath Bandara, Chief of Staff, together with Senior Officers and the Assistant Defence Attaché in the High Commission of India welcomed General Shavendra Silva, Head, National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO), Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army on arrival at the hospital premises as the Chief Guest for the inaugural occasion.
Medical Officers at the Colombo Army Hospital adopting medical procedures afterwards administered the first dose of the vaccine.
This heralded the start of the vaccination project for frontline Army workers, in less than 24 hours after the first consignment of India-gifted vaccines reached Colombo and was received by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday (28) afternoon.
“The COVISHIELD vaccine will be first used at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Colombo, National Hospital, Ragama Hospital and six other hospitals, including the Colombo Army Hospital and the Panagoda Army Hospital. From today, it will be taken to other areas and all Army Hospitals as planned. This vaccination is restricted strictly to those whose names have already been listed and the entire programme will remain very transparent,” General Shavendra Silva said.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Army medical teams covering frontline Navy, Air Force and Policemen serving at all islandwide Intermediate Care Centres, Quarantine Centres, Hospitals, and also Tri-Servicemen, Policemen engaged in airport operations will carry out vaccination of the ‘COVISHIELD’ jab beginning on Friday (29) as per directions given by General Shavendra Silva.