Medical officers raised serious concerns about the surging numbers of COVID-19 patients and deaths, with statistics showing at least three to four patients dying every hour. Vice President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA), Dr. Manilka Sumanatillake told the Media that if the country was to win the race between the rapidly increasing COVID infections and the numbers being vaccinated it would have to re-impose stricter travel restrictions for a short period. He also said Sri Lanka’s daily COVID-19 cases count could be several times higher than the official figures.
“With the Delta variant of concern having a higher transmissibility, the actual number of virus-infected people, who remain undetected, can be five or six times higher,” he added. Right now, it looks like the virus is ahead and winning although the vaccination process has been ramped up, he emphasised. Almost all main hospitals in the country have reached their maximum capacity while some have already declared emergency.
The Ragama and Kalubowila teaching hospitals, where wards were flooded with COVID-19 patients by Wednesday (4), were seen having patients under trees and outside the buildings by last midnight. Meanwhile, with at least 20 children being admitted with COVID -19 to the Lady Ridgeway Hospital per day, measures were taken to send some of the patients to the Rajagiriya Ayurveda Hospital.
Hospital Director, Dr. G. Wijesuriya said that the first floor of the Ayurveda Hospital was utilised to transfer the COVID positive children. Dr. Sumanatillake, who is also a consultant Endocrinologist, said “not only there is an increase seen in the number of COVID cases but once more there is a hike in the number of COVID deaths.
From the 40 and 50 and 60s that were reported by the Director General Health Services (DGHS) during the past number of days there was a leap to 82 deaths on Wednesday (3) comprising 41 men and 41 women between the ages of 30 to 60 years and above. This means that three COVID deaths occurred every hour. According to this, on an hourly basis, there have been three COVID deaths, he lamented.
The SLMA Vice President lamented that the number of COVID cases in the COVID wards at the National Hospital Colombo and Teaching Hospital Kalubowila, had outnumbered the available beds in those wards. At the NHSL alone there are 600 COVID patients at present. According to records issued by the Epidemiology Unit on 27 and 29 July 2021 there were 1,711 and 1,940 cases respectively. However the numbers leaped to 2,370 by 29 July 2021.
By Monday (2) the beginning of August, there has been a steady increase in the detections till a total 2,561 cases were recorded on Wednesday (4). The total number of fully vaccinated cases in the country was 2,645,844 while the number of COVID cases recorded in the Post New Year cluster had surpassed 205,981 by Tuesday (3). The National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) said there were 86 State hospitals treating patients with COVID-19 also by Wednesday (4) with 6,718 patients.
There were 64 interim care centres (ICCs) with 14,700 patients and 45 paid ICC with another 4,880 patients being treated. Meanwhile, Deputy Director General Disaster Management and Emergency Response Dr. Hemantha Herath said that although there was an increase in COVID patients in several hospitals it has not reached a crisis situation.
Responding to questions, when contacted, Dr. Herath said yesterday (5) that he had been to Galle and Matara hospitals to assess the situation. “If it comes to the worst we would have to utilise available resources,” he said, noting that the available health staff could not be expanded. “Nor can we burden the other health services by cutting them down.”
“However, if it comes to a critical situation we may have to do so,” he noted. In the meantime, China has pledged to “keep its commitment” by delivering more Sinopharm Vaccines to Sri Lanka. The Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka, in a tweet, stated that it would deliver a total of four million doses of the Sinopharm Vaccine to Sri Lanka despite the increasing demand for the vaccines on domestic turf. It said that 2.14 million doses of the vaccine were scheduled to reach Sri Lanka today (6) while another 1.86 million doses were to land in the island by Sunday (8).
(Source: Ceylon Today – By Dilanthi Jayamanne)