ECONOMYNEXT – With ongoing issues in PCR testing and alleged doubts over officially declining case numbers, public concern over COVID-19 has diminished in Sri Lanka even as the virus continues to spread, the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said.
GMOA general committee member Prasad Kolabage said the spread of the different variants of the virus may have increased in areas outside the western province undetected.
Though vaccination has taken place, the danger of the virus persists, he added.
“Everyone’s depending solely on vaccination,” Kolabage told reporters Wednesday (14).
“It will certainly provide some protection. However, the danger remains,” he said, calling for increased daily PCR and rapid antigen testing.
From July 06, health authorities haven’t exceeded 14,000 PCR tests a day. On Thursday (15), only 13,723 PCRs and 3,614 rapid antigen tests were carried out.
“It appears the general public is increasingly neglecting health guidelines,” said Kolabage.
Authorities should also focus on testing the immunity level of vaccinated people and take measures to boost immunity if the vaccines don’t provide adequate protection, Kolabage said, though he did not elaborate on how this might be achieved.
Meanwhile, President of the Joint Council for Professions of Supplementary Medicine Ravi Kumudesh accused the health ministry of being unconcerned with increasing testing.
“We have offered many solutions to the problem of increasing PCR testing, but it seems the MoH doesn’t want to increase the numbers,” Kumudesh told reporters.
“We persuaded the government to give us portable PCR machines to increase efficiency and to mimimise delays of test results on dead bodies and delays in provincial PCR results in reaching the epidemiology unit. The government allocated funds to purchase the equipment. But for a month and a half, it seems the MoH has been passing the ball among themselves without acquiring the machines,” he said.
As case numbers decreased, authorities have neglected their duties as was the case on previous occasions, Kumudesh charged.
“The collection of samples has dropped significantly. Some hospitals have stopped PCR testing altogether,” he said.
“Rapid antigen testing is disorganised, so any data from those tests are somewhat questionable. Decisions taken on such questionable data can possibly lead us back to a situation similar to the New Year cluster in the next three to four weeks,” he warned.
Kumudesh further said members of the public must take necessary precautions without relying on official data.
“We cannot say the spreading has gone down or the number of patients has gone down. Your safety is in your hands,” he said.
“We have suggested ways to increase PCR tests to 75,000, and the government has allocated provisions for some of the solutions we have provided, but the MoH is not taking action to implement these proposals,” said Kumudesh.
“They have once again neglected this decease, and the results will be seen in the future,” he added. (Colombo/Jul16/2021)