Colombo: For the first time, Sri Lanka has reported the highly contagious new variant of the coronavirus found in the UK, health authorities said on Friday. Dr Chandima Jeewandara, Director of immunology and molecular medicine of the Sri Jayewardenepra University here, said that the latest variant, of B.1.1.7 lineage, is highly contagious.
It was the third variant of coronavirus to be detected in the country, he said, mentioning four different locations from where samples have been tested positive for the new UK variant. According to the health authorities, the country is recording over 800 COVID-19 cases on a daily basis.
In late January, with the receipt of free vaccines from India, the health ministry launched a vaccination programme for the frontline health workers and the military. A public vaccination programme is to get underway from mid-March with the expected orders of vaccines coming from India.
Sri Lanka has so far recorded over 73,000 COVID-19 cases with 379 fatalities.