ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s health authorities have denied allegations of artificially lowering the daily COVID-19 caseload in order to have Sri Lanka removed from a pandemic red list, a top health official said.
Responding to claims that a recent drop in daily cases was due to reduced PCR testing, Director General of Health Services Dr Asela Gunawardena told reporters on Thursday (23) that no data has been manipulated.
“We cannot do that. We are in the red zone not solely because of the number of patients,” Gunawardena said.
“Many factors are being considered when they list red zoned countries. The numer of patients that are coming to hospitals has reduced, and spreading has minimised. That is why we see a decline in patient numbers.”
Last week, President of the Government Nursing Officers’ Association Saman Rathnapriya accused the authorities of artificially reducing the numbers by decreasing daily PCR and rapid antigen testing (RAT).
According to Health Promotion Bureau data, on August 19, Sri Lanka had conducted 22,290 PCR tests and 6,437 antigen tests. However, the numbers have come done gradually. Health authorities had performed only 8,256 PCR tests on Thursday.
“We have developed a way of performing these tests. According to that system, we are now doing more RATs than PCR tests. we dispatch 30,000 RAT kits kit daily. Based on the numbers that return, we know a large number of tests are being done,” Deputy Director of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath told reporters on Wednesday (22).
“Even though the returned kits come after some time, we communicate with the ground level teams daily. So though we don’t have a specific number to show, we know approximately how much were positive, and how many tests had been done when.”
Herath said there is a clear decrease in patients.
“A small number will be added to the caseload total after this declaration. However, it won’t affect the downward trend. I think if we follow these guidelines the downward trend will continue,” he said. (Colombo/Sep24/2021)