Medi snips | Sunday Observer

Medi snips

16 August, 2020

Construction Industry launches new Health guidelines for Covid-19 and Dengue

News of the recent publishing of Version 3 of Health and Immunity Enhancement Guidelines for Covid-19 and Dengue has been welcomed as a step forward by health officials.

Launching the report, the Chairman of the Construction Industry Development Authority (CIDA) Prof. Sohan Wijesekara was reported to have said that as the construction industry plays an important role in the national economy, providing over 500,000 jobs directly and indirectly, any fall in the industry due to Covid-19 or dengue would create a negative impact on the national economy growth. Hence, the main objective of the new guidelines was to protect the health of the workers. The guidelines are supported by Guidelines of the Ministry of Health on Covid-19 and Dengue as well as guidance from the Industrial Safety Division of the Department of Labour and the World Health Organization (WHO). It also discusses the sources of Covid-19 and Dengue , as well as symptoms to look out for, while highlighting health precautions in detail that need to be taken during the outbreak of Covid-19 and Dengue which can lead to critical health issues, for easy reference to stakeholders.

Listing some of the symptoms of Covid-19 and Dengue, the document reportedly states that infected persons are usually reported with high fever. It goes on to say that if any person is infected with Covid-19 it is considered most contagious when the patient is asymptomatic (i.e experiencing fever, cough and /or shortness of breath). Spreading might even be possible before people show the symptoms, it adds.


The document further highlighted risks of the spread of Dengue and Covid-19 in the construction industry due to the nature of the work involved. It notes that construction workers often have to work in close proximity, share tools, attend to tough work such as placing shuttering, reinforcements, scaffolding , receiving and returning tools, attending to awareness pocket meetings and adhering to common meal or tea breaks. Hence, social distancing posed a problem, it stated. The tendency of using the same face mask without replacing or cleaning it could also be a very high risk, it noted. It adds that those with respiratory issues may be unknowingly assigned to work in dangerous risky places.

Other health issues

The report also points out the fact that workers are commonly transported from site to site in trucks and trailers packed close to each other, they share mobile phones and chargers while most construction workers are habitual betel chewers or smokers and ignorant of basic rules of hygiene or how dengue can breed in small quantities of rain water.

Obligations of contractors

The CIDA has stressed the need for site cleaning and getting rid of garbage safely by contractors, and thereby the elimination of dengue breeding sites. It has stressed that no worker in a construction site should be exposed to the risk of getting infected by these diseases and advised contractors to put remedial measures in place with immediate effect


Raising awareness on narcotics in schools

The Education Ministry Secretary’s circular to school heads island-wide to raise awareness on the dangers of narcotics and alcohol in keeping with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s vision to eradicate the drug menace, has been welcomed by school heads. In his circular the Education Ministry Secretary, NHM Chitrananda has reportedly urged school principals to conduct seminars for both students and their parents on issues related to drug and alcohol consumption to ensure a narcotics free school environment. He also reportedly requested them to form coordinating committees at schools with the participation of parents and teachers.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer on grounds of anonymity, a long term campaigner against drug abuse said children were the most vulnerable group to the drug menace, targeted directly by the drug mafia. He said there were instances when even parents were encouraging their children in the sale of illegal drugs and hence the decision by the Education Secretary was a most welcome and timely step in the battle against drugs. He said in recent months there was a disturbingly high number of incidents of illegal drugs being brought into the country.The commonest addictive or dependence producing drugs are alcohol and tobacco, both are legal. Other common drugs are amphetamine, methamphetamine (Ecstasy) and Ice, Cannabis or ganja or marijuana and Heroin. Cocaine and Benzodiazepines and similar drugs. Other addictive drugs include barbiturates, Hallucinogens (Lysergic acid diethylamide - LSD, certain mushrooms), Khat type, and Volatile solvents.

Asked about new drugs such as ICE that have become popular among the elitist groups and its impact on users, he said that ICE, along with speed and base, is a form of the potent stimulant drug methamphetamine and was the purest and most potent form of methamphetamine. “ If one smokes it, it has an immediate high, in just a couple of minutes. If one ingests it the effects would be felt in about 20 minutes.The immediate effects from ice are intense pleasure and clarity. Users say they have lots of energy, able to think clearly, make good decisions, and plan effectively. This is because methamphetamine dramatically increases the levels of the hormone dopamine - by up to 1,000 times the normal level – much more than any other pleasure seeking activity or drug. Physical effects include dilated pupils, increased heart and breathing rate, reduced appetite and increased sex drive.” He said ICE was very costly and was distributed in night clubs and entertainment areas where youth from affluent families usually gather and party.

Health impacts

He said taking illegal drugs over a period of time could lead to memory loss and cause heart and other chronic problems leading to premature deaths. Therefore, we need the participation of both children and parents to fight this menace. The recent decision is thus a timely welcome step”, he said.

IYC 2020 highlights Youth Engagement for Global Action.

International Year for Youth ( IYC) which fell on August 12, has recognised the contributions of young people in all aspects of society, from education and mental health to social justice and sustainable peace . The World Health Organization defines ädolescents “as individuals between 10-19 years and youth as those in the 15 to 24 age group. At present with Sri Lankan youth facing many issues such as drug addiction and the constant pressure to perform well in the academic field by parents, has led to several mental health problems , which need to be resolved immediately, a Psychiatrist told the Sunday Observer.