Published on: January 2, 2024

Ministry of Health Steadfast in Monitoring the JN.1 Variant

  • Adhere to the Established Health Protocols Observed During the Previous Pandemic Season.
  • Commencing Next Week, a Measles Immunization Program will be Implemented – Health Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana.

In response to the emergence of the new Covid variant JN.1 reported from India, Industry and Health Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana assured that the Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the situation. As of now, no cases have been reported from the sample tests conducted. Despite this, the minister urged the public to adhere to the health practices established during the previous Covid season.

Furthermore, Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana announced that preparations have been finalized for a vaccination program aimed at controlling the resurgence of the measles disease across the country. The program is scheduled to commence next week and will be administered through the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) Offices nationwide.

These updates were shared by Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana during a press conference at the Presidential Media Center today under the theme ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country.'”

Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana further commented:

“The ongoing initiative to provide quality and advanced medicines to the people of Sri Lanka under the free health service is being consistently implemented. The country experienced a shortage of certain medicines due to the economic downturn after the Covid crisis. However, with the steady improvement of the country’s financial situation, the government has expedited the procurement process to obtain essential medicines.

To enhance transparency in the procurement of medicines for hospitals, preparations are underway to digitize procurement activities. Expert advice is being sought from the computer science departments of the University of Colombo and University of Moratuwa. This digitization effort is expected to streamline future procurement activities.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has allocated the necessary funds in this year’s budget to improve the quality control laboratory of the NMRA. Structural changes in capacity and human resources are anticipated this year.

Identification of 850 types of essential medicines required for the country has been completed. These medicines cover a wide range, including those vital for saving lives, contact lenses, surgical equipment for heart patients (including stents), orthopedic surgery equipment and other medical necessities.

The alarming number of 50 deaths from dengue disease last year underscores the need for collective action from society. The government, with the support of the entire community, is implementing an environment cleaning program involving members of the security forces. Dengue can be controlled by maintaining a clean environment.

Although Sri Lanka has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) for eradicating measles, the Ministry of Health acknowledges around 700 reported cases last year. Certain deficiencies in people’s existing immunity may have contributed to this situation. Starting from the second week of January, arrangements have been made to provide the measles immunization vaccine through all Medical Officer of Health offices nationwide. Parents are urged to ensure their children receive the necessary immunization and if necessary, individuals can receive this vaccine as an additional dose.

Amidst discussions about the new JN.1 Covid strain reported from India, the Ministry of Health reassures the public that, as currently reported by the World Health Organization, there is no undue cause for concern. Continuous monitoring is being carried out and with the support of the Medical Research Institute, extensive sample tests have been initiated. To date, no patients with the new Covid variant have been identified. Nevertheless, the public is advised to adhere to the health practices followed during the last pandemic season.”


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