Director of the Allergy Immunology and Cell Biology Unit at the University of Sri Jayawardenepura Dr. Chandima Jeewandara, says the latest COVID-19 variant, Omicron, detected in South Africa, has around 30 mutations.
Dr. Jeewandara said therefore the public should follow stringent health guidelines and remain vigilant.
He said the public must receive the booster vaccine dose. Dr. Jeewandara said current efforts to mitigate COVID-19 have been successful adding that existing rules and regulations for overseas arrivals are adequate.
He stated that Sri Lanka has laboratory facilities to identify the virus.
Speaking to media Dr. Jeewandara said it is believed that the Omicron variant can spread faster than the COVID-Delta variant.
However, Dr. Jeewandara said Sri Lanka remains well prepared, adding an undue fear need not be created.
He said what is required at present is ensuring the delay in the Omicron variant entering the country, stating that the variant cannot be prevented from entering Sri Lanka forever.
He also stated that sufficient research does not exist on the severe effects the Omicron variant could contain.
Dr. Chandima Jeewandara said the Sinopharm vaccine was widely administered in Sri Lanka, adding that vaccine antibodies reduce within three months and therefore highlighted the importance of a third jab, especially for the elderly.
Dr. Jeewandara said the Delta variant is the only variant still prevalent in Sri Lanka, with two mutations of the variant.
He said it is speculated that Omicron has the potential to overwhelm vaccine immunity.
Dr. Jeewandara said the behaviour of the virus variant will be revealed in the future.