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Sri Lanka ramping up random testing for Covid 19 – officials

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka is ramping up random testing for Covid 19 with 37,000 random PCR tests planned in August countrywide, officials said.

Sri Lanka’s Chief Epidemiologist Sudath Samaraweera told EconomyNext, the Health Service has started doing more PCR covering all the districts in the country.

“We have started testing in all the districts. Earlier we did it only in areas we saw a cluster. But now we have started doing them island-wide.” Samaraweera said.

Authorities had up to now targeted the places and districts where the risk of Covid-19 was high. Up to 40,000 random tests had been done under the plan until July.

Sri Lanka has been criticized for not carrying out random testing to ensure that there is no community spread of the disease.

Observers have said that the low number of random tests has posed credibility issues for the number of Covid positive cases and deaths that have been reported.

Opposition politicians have pointed out that Sri Lankan have not yet been cleared to enter European countries although citizens of countries reporting higher per capita numbers have been admitted.

Samagi Jana Balavegaya Member of Parliament Eran Wickremeratne told EconomyNext that “the world does not trust our Covid narrative.”

Samaraweera said each district health officers has been given a certain number of tests to be done.

“We have a quota for the month for the island,” Samaraweera said.

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“And we have divided that number accordingly throughout the island with the help of district health officers.”

“For this month, our target is to do 37,000 PCR tests island-wide,” Samaraweera said.

“With the help of those results at the end of the month, we will decide whether we have to increase the number of tests we are doing or not.”

Samaraweera said the testing was started from the beginning of the month.

Sri Lanka is under social distancing and businesses operate under health guidelines which are enforced by Public Health Inspectors.

People are also asked to wear masks in public.

Samaraweera in an earlier report had warned that while the disease is controlled, there may be a few in the community who have not been detected. (Colombo/ Aug 18/2020)