Concerns over quarantine and PCR tests

o Navy cluster still active after 14 days
o Reiterates need to increase PCR tests
o No need to increase testing: Authorities

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa
The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) yesterday (25) raised concerns regarding the ongoing quarantine process and the number of PCR tests conducted per person quarantined at those centres before releasing them.

Speaking to The Morning, GMOA Assistant Secretary Dr. Naveen De Zoysa said that the number of days each person exposed to the virus or arriving in the country should be quarantined at a centre was not clear, as the cluster developed at the Sri Lanka Navy camp was still spreading even after the stipulated 14-day period.

“It is not clear how many days a person should be quarantined, whether it is 14 days or 21 days,” he stressed. Urging the Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry to declare the exact time period, the GMOA noted that once the country fully opened again, there was a question of sending people for home quarantine.

“The effectiveness of the home quarantine process is a question. How do we assure that those who were sent home would stay at home or will go out?” Dr. Zoysa stressed. Therefore, the GMOA urged the authorities to increase the number of PCR tests conducted per day.

“As of now, we should conduct a minimum of 2,500 PCR tests per day,” he noted.

Highlighting the fact that there were no new cases reported from the public during the past few weeks, Dr. De Zoysa stressed that it was important to continue a strict quarantine process for those arriving in Sri Lanka.

The GMOA also urged the authorities to expand the number of tests and testing methods to get reliable and quick results.

“There are several other tests that we can conduct for Covid-19 and the Government should start those tests in Sri Lanka too,” Dr. De Zoysa noted.

Meanwhile, when The Morning contacted Epidemiology Unit Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Samaraweera, he said that at present, the authorities were conducting between 1,600-2,000 PCR tests per day and that currently, there was no necessity to increase the number of tests.

He explained that the number of tests conducted at present which can be varied are enough, as there were no new cases reported from the community during the last few weeks.

In addition, a number of random PCR tests for high-risk communities were also being conducted by the authorities, as explained by Dr. Samaraweera.

As of now, only one active cluster, which is at naval bases, is in the country and all tests conducted on suspected deaths have come out negative and no positive cases have been reported so far, he added.