Community-level testing begins

By Sarah Hannan

With the highest number of Covid-19 patients being reported within a 24-hour period in one location, recording 32 patients on 20 April, the Sri Lankan health authorities have changed the manner in which sample collection is carried out for PCR testing.

“The health authorities will decide in which areas they would want to carry out the PCR tests for communities. As of now, following the increase in the number of cases getting reported, Sri Lanka Police is assisting the health authorities to carry out these tasks. Tests are now being carried out in locations where Covid-19-positive patients are detected,” Police Media Spokesperson SP Jaliya Senaratne informed The Morning.

Anyone who is referred to be sent to quarantine centres are to undergo a PCR test before they enter the quarantine centre. Given the present condition, a mobile PCR testing unit will be sent to the area and samples will be obtained from suspected patients who will then be required to observe home quarantine until the results are released.

“Since the commencement of community-level testing for vulnerable groups, we have been deploying healthcare officials to carry out the sample collection from areas that are named as isolated and completely locked down zones. As we speak, more tests are being carried out and samples are being collected. Therefore, we cannot give you exact details of how many communities have been tested,” Deputy Director General of Public Health Service Dr. Paba Palihawadana stated.

She further noted that although the method of the public subjected to PCR tests has now changed to identify community clusters, that too is done in a strategic manner. Furthermore, persons from vulnerable communities are now subjected to PCR tests as per the requirement and a mobile sample collection unit or a team of health officials will be deployed to collect samples for the PCR tests.