Slight downward trend in Sri Lanka’s daily COVID-19 cases inconclusive; more testing needed

ECONOMYNEXT – Daily COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka since the emergence of the second wave are showing a slight downward trend from end December 2020, official data shows, though it is too early to say anything conclusive. The number of daily PCR tests has also seen a drop over the Christmas and New Year holidays, according to one official, which may explain the shape of the curve.

Daily COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka since the emergence of the second wave in October 2020

In early December, Sri Lanka recorded an average of around 700 cases a day, but over the latter part of the month the numbers dropped to an average of about 500. In the first five days of January, the daily numbers show a continuous drop from 597 to 468.

Director of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath told EconomyNext that there was a drop in samples collected for PCR testing over the festive period as healthcare workers were given a respite from their gruelling work schedules.

“They’ve all been working without taking any leave the past few months, so we gave some of them a break during the festive season. So the number of PCR tests was reduced,” Herath said.

It must also be noted that monthly cases are still on the rise.

Monthly cases

“Though there is a reduction in daily numbers, we cannot say with certainty that there is a downward trend. There is a visible downward trend, but without carrying out more tests in the next few days we cannot confirm that there is an actual reduction in the number of cases,” he added.

Health authorities identified 468 new cases over a period of 24 hours that ended at 6am today (05), bringing total cases in Sri Lanka since the advent of the pandemic in March 2020 to 45,242. At present there are 7,210 active cases, with 583 individuals under investigation in state hospitals and temporary treatment facilities.

With two more deaths reported today, the country’s COVID-19 death toll has increased to 215.

Sri Lanka has conducted 1,299,336 PCR tests so far, with 12,826 PCR tests carried out in the 24-hour period that ended at 6am today.

Meanwhile, repatriation of Sri Lankans abroad is ongoing, amid criticism of neglect, particularly in the face of a controversial attempt to revive tourism. By this morning, 877 Sri Lankans returned to Sri Lanka from Abu Dhabi, Qatar and China, the national COVID-19 task force said, adding that all returnees will be directed to military-run quarantine centres.

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Over the past 24 hours, 565 people returned home upon recovery, bringing the total recovered patients to 37,817. (Colombo/Jan 05/2021)

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