ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has decided to add more intensive care unit (ICU) beds to its state healthcare system and increase the country’s lagging PCR testing to 15,000 tests a day as fears of an uncontrollable surge in COVID-19 cases abound.
These and other decisions were taken at an emergency meeting between health officials chaired by Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi yesterday, an official told EconomyNext.
It has been decided at the meeting to strictly enforce quarantine laws to contain the spread of the virus. Quarantine regulations pertaining to returnees to the island will also be amended.
Chief Epidemiologist Dr Sudath Samaraweera had said previously that an increase in cases among returnees was noticed and the government is therefore looking to minimise the number of repatriates coming into the country.
Steps to be taken in the event of a surge in cases in the coming weeks were also discussed at yesterday’s meeting, the official who spoke to EconomyNext on condition of anonymity said. Issues covered include matters pertaining to medical supply, hospital facilities, the state of ICUs, and managing an influx of patients.
In February this year, the state health sector had 147 ICU beds and 11,443 regular beds reserved for COVID-19 patients at 42 government hospitals and 37 temporary treatment centres. The number of ICUE beds are to be increased, according to the official.
In a 24-hour period that ended at 6am today (22), health authorities 578 people tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 97,833 with 3,540 active cases.
The newly detected cases include 51 Sri Lankan returnees and 11 foreigners. Of the 516 locally identified cases, 171 were from Kurunegala, 51 were from Puttalam, Gamapaha and Colombo districts recorded 43 each.
With two new deaths, the number of COVID-19 related deaths has increased to 630. (Colombo/Apr22/2021)