ECONOMYNEXT – Health authorities in Sri Lanka have warned against treating the symptoms of untested patients with COVID-like symptoms as the wrong medication could potentially worsen their condition.
Former President of the College of General Practitioners Dr Ruvaiz Haniffa told reporters on Wednesday (24) that if a patient shows COVID-like symptoms or if the doctor examining the patient suspects COVID-19, the doctor must prescribe a PCR test without prescribing any medicine as they might in the case of allergies or the flu. If the patient has any underlying condition, the doctor must direct him or her to a specialist, said Haniffa.
“If you treat the symptoms, different medications may be used and that can severely affect the condition of the patient,” he said.
“When you go for treatment for COVID-like symptoms, speak to your doctor for recommendations on the best medication.”
Haniffa was speaking at press briefing organised by the Health Promotion Bureau.
Haniffa said the general public has dropped their guard since daily COVID-19 cases began to drop in October, despite a slow but steady increase of late.
“There is a hotline operated by the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) and the ministry of health for inquiries on anything related to this virus, about symptoms or any other information,” Haniffa said.
The number of calls received by the hotline dropped with the decrease in cases, he said.
“We used to get around 1,000-1300 calls a day, but now it is around 200-300. It seems the public has somewhat come to ignore the virus now.”
He added that ignoring the virus has led to the current increase in patients and deaths in the country.
Haniffa further said some COVID-19 patients appear to be recovering at home even after testing positive because of the home based treatment method now in place.
“Around 80 percent who contract the virus do not require admission to a hospital. Most of them can be asymptomatic or show mild symptoms. However, the decision to be treated at home is taken by health officials that analyse your symptoms and your home condition,” said Haniffa.
“The general public cannot decide how they should get medical treatment if they positive.”
Haniffa said only around 20 percent of new cases will be sent to the hospital, and if the need arises, the patients receiving treatment at home will be sent to hospital through the Suwa Sariya ambulance service that can be contacted through the hotlines such as 247 and 1904.
“Do not hesitate to call these numbers. It’s free of charge,” he said.
Meanwhile, health officials identified 49 patients from 24 schools in Deniyaya on Tuesday (23), including 12 teachers, three school principals, non-academic staff and students.
Paediatrician Dr Channa De Silva told reporters on Wednesday that the infection rate of children has increased considerably in the past few days in parallel to the daily number of positive cases.
“This is not good. It can lead to closure of schools again,” he said.
Silva said with the majority being vaccinated, the virus may be transmitting from asymptomatic patients to the children.
“Many adults have taken the jab. Therefore, most of them may not show symptoms, and from them the children might get the virus,” he said.
According to official data, of the above 16 years of age population, 98 percent have received the first dose while 84 percent has received both doses so far. (Colombo/Nov25/2021)