ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is planning for home management of Coronavirus, a minister said as the health service comes under increasing pressure, the daily death toll continues to climbs, though some stabilization of new cases has been seen in recent days under active tracing and quarantine.
On May 08, the Health Ministry reported 22 confirmed deaths, the highest in a single day. The deaths had taken place between May 02 and 08.
“If the patients number continues to increase there may come a time where patients need to stay at home and get treatments from home,” Sudarshini Fernandopulle, State Minister of Primary Health Services, Pandemics and COVID Prevention, who is developing a reputation as a careful speaker and thinker told reporters this week.
“For such a situation we at the Ministry of Health are forming guidelines on how to give treatments and how a patient should behave if receiving treatments from home.”
Sri Lanka has gradually lost policy making ability after permanent secretaries of ministries and a public service commission was scrapped in a constitution in 1971 and direct presidential appointment began in a 1978 one, analysts say.
The practice of policy formulation, involving white papers, green papers gave way to vote buying election manifestos and ad hoc interventionist decision-making and eventually magic.
In the current crisis the promotion of a so-called Dhammika Pani (a magic potion) and ‘Mutti (throwing witch doctored pots into rivers), had been seen in a reaction against the scientific method, which is generally labelled as ‘Western’ by nationalists and nativists.
The scientific method involves developing a hypothesis based on gathered information, making predictions and rigorously testing, with experiments or empirical data.
In Sri Lanka nationalism is taught in school critics say.
Sri Lanka has been scrambling to expand hospital space and treatment centres as patients under medical care rose from around 2,800 at the beginning of April to 17,476 by May 08 morning.
By 2045h 19,372 were under medical care according to Health Ministry data.
Based on past experience where patients are discharged a little under two weeks hospital beds of around 10 to 12 times the daily admissions are needed, observers say.
Authorities say their goal is to have around 2,000 beds available in every district and about 5,000 in Colombo, while kicking vaccination into high gear.
Sri Lanka’s military is also building a large hospital with ICU facilities at a factory given by Sri Lanka’s Brandix apparel group.
Colombo and Gampaha are the most populous districts which generally see the highest confirmation while Kurunegala is also a hotspot.
Over the past week with Public Health Inspectors tracing and isolating contacts and authorities surgically locking down pockets of infections, daily confirmations have remained around 1,900 with 20,000 to 25,000 tests conducted.
Discharges have gradually picked up.
On May 08, 1,335 recovered patients were discharged reducing the admission requirement to 563 from around 1,000 to 1,000 over the previous two weeks. If the new cases remain under 2,000 discharges will also pick up to that level after around two weeks.
Doctors however warn that it is too early to say the wave is on the wane.
Sri Lanka Medical Association President Padma Gunasekera urged the public to be careful.
“New admissions are still high we cannot say the pandemic is under control,” she told local television. “More patients need hospital care.”
Up to April new admissions had ranged around 150 to 200 when the pandemic was under control with mostly a Nordic variant spreading, and daily deaths were in single digits.
But a new British SARS-Cov-2 variant which started spreading after traditional New Year celebrations and shopping spree is producing more deaths and also triggering pneumonia in younger patients, requiring more hospital treatment rather than intermediate care.
PHIs have warned that delays in giving test results are endangering isolation efforts and have urged the government to develop a partnership with private labs to farm out testing when backlogs develop and also bring back retired health inspectors.
Sri Lanka has a 3,700 strong PHIs cadre set up decades ago to fight tropical diseases who have been carrying on the battle against Covid-19.
In several East Asian countries outbreaks are brought to zero with fast testing, institutional quarantine of first contacts who are tested twice in 24 hours immediately after identification (to determine the need for second level institutional quarantine), home quarantine of second level and institutional treatment of confirmed patients.
However those with home quarantine, such as Korea, also manage to keep down the pandemic with a steady trickle of deaths and periodic spikes of clusters. (Colombo/May09/2021)