Confirmed Covid-19 cases: GMOA dreads April spike

Despite the relatively low number of confirmed Covid-19 cases reported last week, health authorities yesterday (28) warned the public that the threat was not over as they forecast another spike in infections in the first week of April.

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) Deputy Secretary Dr. Naveen De Zoysa told The Sunday Morning that the GMOA expected the next surge to occur on 7 April. It urged the Government not to relax the strict regulations currently in place to control the movement of people and thereby control the spread of the infection.

Currently, the country has recorded a total number of 113 infected persons with one recorded death, while as of yesterday evening, nine patients had fully recovered. Accordingly, Sri Lanka’s current tally of positive cases stands at 103.

The GMOA stated that there could be around 500 infected persons around the country and the authorities were currently monitoring around 22,000 already identified as suspected cases.

“If those infected 500 cases are within this 22,000, then there is no problem. But the problem is if those are not within that 22,000. If that is the case, then there is a new threat with the Government relaxing curfew from time to time. We have seen many people gathered around shops to purchase goods and if there was an infected person, then there is a threat to all such persons who are there,” Zoysa explained.

Meanwhile, more than 190 patients suspected of contracting the virus are under observation at selected hospitals across the country. In addition, out of the 103 infected with Covid-19, five patients are currently being treated at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (IDH), according to the GMOA. Praising Sri Lanka’s preventive care services (PCS) consisting of public health inspectors (PHIs) and medical officers of health (MOHs), Dr. De Zoysa noted that the PCS is an advantage Sri Lanka has that other countries do not and because of that, Sri Lanka could manage the epidemic to this level.

However, the GMOA highlighted the lack of ICU beds in the country and stressed that if Sri Lanka did not take strict decisions to control the spreading of the disease, it would not be able to focus on the moderate and severe cases due to lack of facilities. “Around 85% of patients infected with the virus show only mild symptoms and for some, it went away with no symptoms. Only 15% are vulnerable to moderate to severe complications and as of now, the country could manage critical cases, but if there was a sudden increase, it couldn’t control it due to the lack of health facilities,” Dr. De Zoysa said.

However, he added that Sri Lanka would not be out of the woods even after 7 April.

“Even then, we can’t say the country is fully recovered as it should wait at least two 14-day periods with zero new cases reported to declare that the epidemic threat is over and to reopen the country. Even after that, there could be isolated cases and therefore, people would have to be vigilant and keep their distance,” he stressed.

– Maheesha Mudugamuwa