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Sri Lanka launches aggressive COVID 19 testing

A nurse wearing a facemask walks outside the entrance of Sri Lanka’s Infectious Diseases Hospital near Colombo on March 17, 2020. LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s health authorities are aggressively expanding testing for COVID 19 this week according to new instructions sent to 34 major state sector hospitals across the country.

The tests will be performed on a variety of patients as well as healthcare workers exposed to confirmed COVID 19 patients, the government circular signed by the Director-General of Health Services Dr Anil Jasinghe said.

Hospitals are being asked to collect at least ten samples a day from patients arriving at the Out-patients Departments. A separate area or a room is to be designated at the OPD for this purpose and only staff equipped with the proper protective gear are to be involved in the testing the instructions said.

All patients with acute respiratory ailments are to be tested including patients with sore throats who have contracted a fever, the circular said.

All persons from communities where there is a risk of exposure to the virus as identified by Public Health officials. This includes anyone who has visited the regions currently in lockdown due to coronavirus infections in the area.

Any doctors can also refer their patients for the COVID 19 test to exclude the disease if they are exhibiting symptoms, irrespective of their travel history or exposure to infected patients.

Eight different laboratories from Jaffna to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital have been identified for the samples to be sent to.

The Government Medical Officers Association has been urging the government to increase testing according to World Health Organisation guidelines.

The GMOA also wants the authorities to conduct the so-called Rapid Test which is inexpensive and checks for anti-bodies generated by infected patients.

The Union President Dr Anuruddha Padeniya is asking the government to follow the WHO dictum of “test,test,test.”

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Health Chief Jasinghe has said that the rapid tests that they have received are not reliable. (Colombo, 10, April, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

 

 

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