Need For Rapid Expansion In Testing For Covid-19 In Sri Lanka
Daily FT|April 01, 2020
Need for rapid expansion in testing for COVID-19 in Sri Lanka
Dr. ruvaiz Haniffa

As we come to the end of the ‘official quarantine’ period and begin to relax the ‘lockdown’ within Sri Lanka but keeping the ‘international lockdown’ in place, we need to look at how the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 behaved in other countries (please see graph 1).

Based on actual case numbers from the countries given in the graph, Sri Lanka can expect an upsurge in the number of COVID 19 cases in the coming weeks. This may get further aggravated during the upcoming Sinhalese and Tamil New Year in mid April 2020 (week 6) where we can expect mass internal migration of fellow citizens within the country.

This calls for the health (both state and private sector) and non-health sectors to act in a preemptive manner to deal with the inevitable morbidity and morality which is to be expected. The health authorities should as per the WHO appeal use ALL available health resources within the country to deal with the health outcomes and outputs of the pandemic to contain and mitigate it and sustain such control over time.

A key scientific tool in containing and mitigation the spread of the virus is to know with certainty who has the virus and where those who have the virus are located geographically. The only way of doing this is to test for the virus.

Therefore, there is a dire need to rapidly increase and expand the testing of our citizens if we as a country want to have a positive impact on the pandemic in our country and thereby secure the health and wellbeing of our fellow countrymen. The strongest point of our response to the pandemic from a healthcare perspective should be how we improve our weakest point, which at the moment is testing for COVID-19.

Please consider this appeal as one of high priority – we have only one chance to get this right – there is no Plan ‘B’.

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