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Sri Lanka Coronavirus testing capacity upped 30-pct with ADB funded lab

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has boosted its Coronavirus testing capacity 30 percent with a new lab build with emergency funding from the Asian Development Bank, the Manila-based lender said.

“The building, constructed within the hospital premises on hospital land, is equipped with PCR machines, consumables, pharmacological refrigerators and freezers, generator, reagents, and dedicated utilities such as water supply, electricity, and telecommunication,” ADB said.

“In addition, all other operational support, such as training, laboratory information system, technical assistance on troubleshooting, and a waste disposal system is also provided.”

Sri Lanka has contained the Coronavirus epidemic with aggressive Coronavirus quarantine and curfews, though there was a spike with around 900 cases from a Navy camp that got infected at a time when frontline workers were not tested which took the total over 1,900.

New cases are now coming from foreign returnees.

“Despite Sri Lanka’s well-established health system, the country was in urgent need of increasing its diagnostic capacity of the COVID-19 infection,” Secretary of Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services Dr. S. H. Munasinghe said.

“The Asian Development Bank responded without delay by providing the necessary funds to establish a PCR laboratory at the Colombo East Base Hospital.”

ADB provided 15 million US dollars from its Sri Lanka Health System Enhancement Project to tackle Coronavirus.

“We are glad to have contributed to the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka through this new laboratory complex, which will conduct investigations on high-risk patients in a conducive environment both for patients and the laboratory staff,” said ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Chen Chen.

The Ministry of Highways and the Ministry of Power and Energy have contributed valuably through the construction of a wider and better access road to the laboratory, provision of materials during this difficult situation, and the establishment of a dedicated power line for the laboratory.”

Sri Lanka has conducted over 100,000 tests and also began community testing after the discovery of a large cluster in an under-served area of the capital during the period when community testing was not done, for reasons which are not clear.

Health officials in Sri Lanka initially did not conduct tests outside of a hospital setting saying the PCR test was a ‘diagnostic’ test, which had to have an ‘indication’ to use, despite the large portion of infected persons being asymptomatic.

Reports said up to 100,000 tests have since been conducted. (Colombo/June24/2020-sb)

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