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US gives Sri Lanka enough ventilators to boost ICU capacity 40-pct

ECONOMYNEXT – The United States has given Sri Lanka enough mechanical ventilators to boost the island’s pre-Coronavirus intensive care bed facilities by around 40 percent, according to publicly available data.

The United States Agency for International Development has handed over 200 ventilators to Sri Lanka’s health minister Pavithra Wanniaracchi.

The US embassy said the donation gave effect to an offer by President Donald Trump to give critically needed supply to help Sri Lanka fight off Coronavirus.

According to statements made by Sri Lanka’s Government Medical Officer’s Association and other officials Sri Lanka had around 500 ICU beds and perhaps around another 80 ventilators which could be repaired and used to expand ICU beds.

A mechanical ventilator helps oxygenate patients whose lung function falls in as Coronavirus reaches a critical stage triggering pneumonia like condition.

“The United States has had a longstanding commitment to the health and wellness of Sri Lankans. Over the last 20 years, the United States has provided more than $26 million in health assistance to Sri Lanka,” the US Ambassador in Colombo Alaina Teplitz said in a statement.

“Our enduring support continues with another donation from the American people.

“By harnessing the power of American innovation and private industry, we are happy to provide these state-of-the-art ventilators to Sri Lanka to fight COVID-19 and help save lives.”

The ventilators, produced in the United States are compact and easily deployable and will provide Sri Lanka with flexibility in treating patients affected by the virus, the US embassy said.

Pictures released by the US embassy showed Zoll EMV+ mechanical ventilators which have built in batteries and could be easily moved around to different hospital or used in ambulances or aircraft to move patients.

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Though ventilators are the critical equipment needed to keep an intubated patient with failing lung function alive giving the body more time to fight off the virus, the success of intensive care also depends on the availability of skilled nursing staff.

Sri Lanka is one of the global leaders in the fight against Coronavirus. The country has so far seen 11 deaths. Recent new patients are all returning Sri Lankans abroad. (Colombo/Aug02/2020).