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Sri Lanka GMOA urges Coronavirus rapid tests for 27,000 contacts to quell Covid-19, count 171

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Government Medical Officers Association has urged the Health Ministry to screen contacts of confirmed patients using so-called rapid tests, which will quickly identify cases and help quell Covid-19 faster.

Sri Lanka’s total Coronavirus count went up to 171 on Sunday.

Several countries have developed test kits which detect antigens in the blood of patients about 5 days after they get the disease, GMOA media spokesman Samantha Ananda told Sri Lanka’s Derana TV.

Some rapid give results as fast as 15 minutes. Sri Lanka is currently conducting quantitative Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction, or qRT-PCR from the phlegm of patients taken from the throat. Positive results depend on the viral load so tests are repeated.

Ananda said Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry has told the doctors union 700 to 1,000 PCR tests can be conducted each day, but only about 200 odd were being done.

“More than diagnosing this can be used to quickly identity patients who can be directed for PCR tests,” Ananda said.

“The best way to control the disease at the moment is to test the contacts of confirmed patients. At the moment there are about 27000 persons in home quarantine.”

“If we can do the test in a cost effective way – from information we have got its is about 800 rupees a rapid test that we mentioned – then we can identify them early and reduce complications.

“Then we can stop the infections going to others.”

Anil Jasinghe, head of Sri Lanka’s Health Service had said that the rapid tests were being checked or ‘validated’ to find whether they were effective or suited to the island.

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“Even the World Health Organization has asked this to be done,” Ananda said. “Even the President and the Health Minister has asked that this be done.

He said the test kits had been submitted for validation several days ago and four days was ample time to do so. We cannot understand who is blocking this. It is very unfortunate.”

Researchers from Vietnam, where tens of thousands had been quarantined and tested during Wave II after successfully halting community transmission from the Wave I from China, have closed gaps in current contact investigation process in an article to be published in the news issue of the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IJTLD), released online under a fast-tracking process.

Read: Adapting a TB contact investigation strategy for COVID-19

The authors from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Hanoi, Viet Nam; Sydney School of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Australia, supported by others in Laos say at least three generations of contacts have to be traced and two tested to successfully kill community transmission.

“First, three generations of contact (F) with COVID-19 cases should be traced to offer timely testing if the previous contact generation is found positive,” they wrote.

“This algorithm starts with the first generation (F1) who are close contacts of the index case (F0).

“All F1 contacts should be tested for SARS-CoV-2 regardless of symptom presentation.

“F1 individuals who are asymptomatic or have two negative tests 24 hours apart should be quarantined for 14 days.”

“F2 contacts should self-isolate at home and be monitored by public health units. If F1 tests positive, we recommend that F3 contacts should also be identified.

“When the previous F becomes positive, the next one will be informed to follow the contact management procedure.”

Quarantine persons should also be tested twice before being released, the researchers say.

“Inappropriate quarantine discharge could occur among patients who have an initial negative test for SARS-CoV-2 and may subsequently test positive,” they said.

In Sri Lanka at least one person who was released from quarantine has been found with the disease in as tests were not done before release. In Sri Lanka tests are not done after release but they are asked to self-quarantine for two weeks. (Colombo/Apr05/2020)