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Wednesday May 18th, 2022

Sri Lanka health official points to significant discrepancy in daily COVID-19 numbers

ECONOMYNEXT – There may be a significant discrepancy between daily COVID-19 cases confirmed by Sri Lanka’s health authorities and the number of people that actually test positive on a given day, according to a regional health official.

Eastern Province Health Services Provincial Director Dr R M Thaufeeque told reporters on Wednesday (11) that 837 cases found in the Eastern province on Tuesday (10) did not tally with the 194 cases reported by the health ministry’s epidemiology unit.

“We identified 342 patients in Batticaloa, 227 in Ampara, 105 in Kalmunai and 163 in Trincomalee,” said Thaufeeque.

However, according to the epid unit, the numbers for Tuesday in the Eastern province were: 45 in Batticaloa, 78 in Ampara and Kalmunai, and 71 in Trincomalee.

According to Health Promotion Bureau Director Dr Ranjith Bathuwanthudawa, the national COVID-19 task force is aware of the issue and is taking measures to correct it.

“We discussed this matter at a task force meeting. The authorities are focused on this problem and [we will bring this to the attention of the Chief Epidemiologist as well],” he said.

Health Services Deputy Director Dr Hemantha Herath too said the issue will be corrected as soon as possible.

“We cannot say the data we publish is either correct or incorrect, nor can the COVID committees in these districts. We must gather all the data together and resolve this issue,” Herath told reporters on Thursday.

“Also, publishing false data could backfire on us at any moment,” he added.

Meanwhile Prof Athula Sumathipala, Chairman, National Institute of Fundamental Studies, said the government should accept that data collection and reporting in the country’s pandemic situation have issues.

“This issue in data gathering was there from the beginning. Data is most important in handling this kind of situation,” he said.

“I’m not saying it was deliberate, but some people must take responsibility for it,” Sumathipala told the privately owned Derana network.

The professor also called for upgrades in technology to gather data at a faster in order to take adequate preventative measures at the right time.

“In collecting, reporting and storing data, I don’t think even the pidemiology unit is up to date. This issue is happening because the epid unit is not up to date on the necessary technology,” he said.

“But we must admit that the current situation regarding data is because of complications in the communication chain,” he added. (Colombo/Aug 12/2021)


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