ECONOMYNEXT – More children and pregnant women in Sri Lanka have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days, health officials said on Thursday (20), noting a sudden spike in cases overall and urging the public to minimise travel and avoid gatherings.
Senior consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at the Castle Street maternity hospital Dr Sanath Lanerolle said COVID-19 cases among pregnant women have increased.
Lanerolle attributed the spike in cases to increased travelling and public gatherings in December.
“Follow guidelines as usual. There will be long weekends. Stop going to public places and reduce travelling,” he told reporters on Thursday .
Meanwhile, Director of Lady Ridgway Children’s Hospital Dr G Wijesuriya said the number of children with the virus has also increased in the past week.
“Earlier there only few children getting treatment at the hospital but it has now increased to around 35,” Wijesuriya told reporters.
Meanwhile Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath said health officials are now investigating a possible increase in cases among children islandwide.
“We know interaction among children increases with the schools being open. With that there is a possibility of cases increasing.
“Keeping the schools open is very important for the children. We must work to keep the schools open and control the situation. The Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Education have taken the necessary steps to contain it,” he said.
Sri Lanka detected 829 new infections on Wednesday (19), a notable increase in daily cases.
Herath said, as expected with increased travels and gatherings in December, and the previous long weekend, a spike in cases can be seen.
However, he said, the rate of infection is slower than expected as a majority of the country have followed health guidelines when travelling.
“But we must be careful because a minority who do not follow guidelines can make the situation worse.”
So far, 15,000 beds have been dedicated to treat COVID-19 patients, of which around 30 percent are currently in use, officials said.
With the 829 new patients, total cases in Sri Lanka has reached 598,536 with 14,656 currently receiving treatment in hospitals or at home.
With 13 deaths confirmed on Wednesday, the COVID-19 death toll has increased to 15,243.
Out of 70 ICU beds, 52 beds are in use and the number of patients who need oxygen has increased by five percent as well.
“One thing we have to understand is Omicron is highly transmittable, more than other variants” Ministry of Health, Medical Technical Services Director, Anwar Hamdani told reporters earlier this week.
“We are informing the general public from the ground level to national level about how to protect themselves. The health sector is ready, but you must decide whether you suffer by getting infected, or protect yourself by following health guidelines and being vaccinated.”
There are also discussions under way about reforming the rules and regulations regarding vaccination, he added. (Colombo/Jan20/2022)