ECONOMYNEXT – Comorbidities, not being vaccinated and negligence of symptoms are the main reasons for a recent increase in COVID-19 deaths in Sri Lanka, Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) Director Dr Ranjith Batuwanthudawa said.
Tuesday (27) saw 63 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19, taking total deaths in Sri Lanka’s third wave of the epidemic to 3,649.
Of the 63 deaths, 35 were male and 28 were female, official data showed.
According to the health ministry’s epidemiology unit, 51 of the deaths were above the age of 60, while 11 were aged 30-59. One death was below 30 years.
Total COVID-19 deaths in Sri Lanka as of Thursday (29) are 4,258.
Batuwanthudawa told EconomyNext that a majority of deaths were of patients suffering various other illnesses.
“Delaying medical treatment is another reason. When a patient comes in too late for treatment, most of the time they due within 24 hours of admission,” he said.
Health Services Deputy Director Dr Hemantha Herath said treatment centres still have enough capacity to treat patients and, though oxygen demand has increased, the supply of oxygen has not yet been affected.
“The need for oxygen has increased due to the increased number of patients with symptoms,” Herath told EconomyNext.
Severe symptoms include difficulty in breathing similar to the experience of wheezing. Herath reitareted that oxygen use has increased for this reason alone and insisted that the supply has not been affected.
However, he warned that hospitals may run out of capacity as admissions increase.
“It is not that we have run out of capacity. We have around 32,000 beds, around 7,000 of which are vacant at any given time these days. But each hospital has a specific number of beds dedicated to COVID-19 treatment. If the number of admissions exceeds this number, we will have to relocate them to other facilities or take other adequate measures to treat the patients,” said Herath.
On Wednesday (28), 1,940 Sri Lankans tested positive for COVID-19.
Dr Herath said the general public should not take these numbers lightly.
“We passed the 300,000 mark in a short period of time. We do not consider this a good sign. The number of patients has increased to 1,900 from 1,400 a couple days ago. If it continues to increase, we will go back to the way things were in May,” he said, referring to the month-long lockdown that Sri Lanka was under from May 21 in the wake of a surge in daily cases.
Herath said the authorities have observed that public places where people gather are neglecting health protocols, adding that if such measures are not taken seriously, the country will fake dire social and economic issues if restrictions are imposed again.
Total COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka have increased to 301,831 with the newly identified patients.
Public Health Inspectors (PHI) Union chairman Upul Rohana said the PHIs will make recommendations to the police on actions to be taken against protestors or any other party endangering public health with mass gatherings during an epidemic.
Police took flak from the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), opposition parties and others for sending protestors on what they called forced quarantine even after the arrested protestors had been bailed out.
“The number of patients we find daily has increased and the number of patients that show symptoms has also increased. So we shall make recommendations to law enforcement to take adequate action against people who break the quarantine law in the future,” said Rohana. (Colombo/Jul29/2021)