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Covid-19 spread: Govt. urged to expedite PCR testing

  • No delays in PCR testing process: Health Services DG
  • Govt. should introduce rapid antigen testing: GMOA 

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) yesterday (2) urged the Health Ministry to expedite the Covid-19 testing process by increasing the number of tests and promptly issuing test results without any delay in order to control the spread of the coronavirus within society.

GMOA Secretary Dr. Senal Fernando told The Morning that the PCR testing process was still slow, in spite of it being nearly a year since the first patient was reported.

He stressed that in addition to the antigen and PCR tests conducted to detect Covid-19, the Government should take immediate steps to introduce antibody tests as well.

“There cannot be any loopholes in the testing process. Even though we have been battling this for 10 months, the testing capacity is only 10,000 per day, which is very much below the expected number,” he stressed, adding that even though the country has taken other precautions such as closing down schools, imposing curfew, and isolating risk areas, the number of tests should also be increased.

Furthermore, the GMOA said the country still falls under the “Level 3” risk category, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.    

Meanwhile, Health Services Director General Dr. Asela Gunawardena said there was no delay in the PCR testing process as the PCR test results of Covid-19-positive patients were being delivered within 24 hours while the negative results were being released within 48 hours.

He told The Morning that the test results of the Covid-19-positive patients are being prioritised so as to expedite the process of treatment, and while the negative results are also being communicated to the relevant Medical Officer of Health (MOH), the issuing of the latter is delayed due to the prioritisation of the former.