Former PM casts “serious doubt” over Sri Lanka’s official COVID-19 figures

ECONOMYNEXT – Questioning the accuracy of Sri Lanka’s official COVID-19 figures, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe cast doubt today on the government’s claims of zero community transmission.

“There’s serious doubt as to the accuracy of the COVID-19 figures given by the authorities. We call the government to reveal the true impact of the coronavirus spread,” he tweeted this afternoon.

Commenting on a recent decision by the University of Jayawardenepura to withdraw from conducting PCR tests, Wickremesinghe said the government’s rejection of its results were a grave concern.

“Having been tested at the university in April, I am confident in the university’s testing system,” the United National Party (UNP) leader said.

“The UNP along with many other stakeholders had continued to call on the Health Ministry to increase testing, benchmarking international best practices. Yet, the government claims the current testing facilities are adequate and the university testing facilities are not required,” he added.

Wickremesinghe’s remarks come against a backdrop of fears of a second wave of the novel coronavirus in Sri Lanka. At the time of writing, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the island is at 2,651, with five new patients testing positive today.

Telecommunication service provider Mobitel closed down its office in Colombo 2 this afternoon due to a suspected possibility of a coronavirus infection in the premises.

Last week, the College of Medical Laboratory Science Sri Lanka (CMLS-SL) warned that faulty PCR test reports issued by external research laboratories, including university labs, that don’t come under the purview of the Ministry of Health could jeopardise Sri Lanka’s efforts to contain the pandemic.

CMLS-SL President Ravi Kumudesh told EconomyNext on July 7 that research laboratories belonging to the country’s universities being used for PCR tests as opposed to ministry-affiliated diagnostic laboratories which are better suited for the purpose could potentially undermine the progress made so far. (Colombo/Jul14/2020)

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