Sri Lankan health minister who endorsed “sorcery” replaced
- Sri Lanka has replaced its health minister amid a surge in COVID cases
- Pavithra Wanniarachchi has been removed from the health ministry
- Media minister Kehliya Rambukwella has been named the new health minister
Sri Lankan has replaced its health minister amid surge in COVID-19 infections and deaths in the island country. Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced on Monday that the health portfolio was being transferred from Pavithra Wanniarachchi to Media Minister Kehliya Rambukwella, the government spokesperson.
Pavithra Wanniarachchi has been in the news after publicly endorsing sorcery and magic potions to battle COVID-19 at a time when the country is seeing record number of infections and fatalities. Wanniarachchi was in intensive care a few months ago after contracting the coronavirus. Upon being discharged from the hospital, she publicly consumed and endorsed a magic potion made by a “sorcerer”.
Further, she also poured a pot of “blessed” water into a river in November after a “self-styled godman” reportedly told her that it would end the pandemic in the island nation of 21 million people, reports Al Jazeera.
Wanniarachchi’s tenure as health minister was rife with controversy and she even came under fire for understating coronavirus infections. However, despite her demotion, Wanniarachchi will retain her position in the Sri Lankan cabinet as she has been now given the transport portfolio.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is seeing a rapid surge in coronavirus cases. Daily infections over the last week have consistently been around 3,000 and nearly 150 people have died every day.
While these are the official numbers, government health workers say that the actual numbers may be three times of those reported, according to Al Jazeera.
The Sri Lankan government has so far rejected calls for a lockdown to contain the surge in infections. But last week, the government tightened restrictions and imposed a six-hour night curfew in shops, restaurants and offices. The curfew came into effect from 10 pm local time on Monday.
From Tuesday, weddings and parties have been outlawed. Public gatherings are prohibited until September 1.