SLMA hotline gets 5K calls in 4 days

BY Pamodi Waravita

The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) yesterday (24) stated that since 21 August, it had received approximately 5,000 calls to their round-the-clock hotline from Covid-19 patients, seeking medical advice from their homes.

Speaking at a media briefing, SLMA Immediate Past President and Doc Call 24/7 SLMA Working Group Member Prof. Indika Karunathilake noted that about 5,000 patients had sought medical advice concerning Covid-19 from the round-the-clock service within the course of four days, and also explained the procedure to be followed by the public when accessing this service.

“The 24/7 hotline works as a 24-hour volunteer service run by medical professionals. The waiting time for each patient, at the moment, is about two minutes. If we recognise that a patient needs immediate emergency care, we send a text message with the patient’s details to the 1990 Suwaseriya Emergency Ambulance Service and to the Covid-19 Centre at the Health Ministry. In this way, the nearest hospital bed is procured for the patient as soon as possible. We direct patients who need hospital treatment but are not regarded as emergency cases to intermediate treatment centres. This service is difficult to access instantly due to the present situation; therefore, in the meantime, we advise patients to get as much rest, nutritious meals, and fluids as possible, while staying in a well-ventilated environment. These patients are also requested to send a text message to the 1904 hotline, run by the Covid-19 National Centre, after which they are added to the waiting list for available beds,” Prof. Karunathilake elaborated.

Patients who do not require either of the aforementioned services are still required to register with the 1904 hotline so that they can be placed under medical supervision at any moment, he added.

He further said the Covid-19 deaths Sri Lanka is currently reporting are of patients who had contracted the virus about two or three weeks earlier.

“We must now ensure that future deaths are reduced, which is why proper medical attention is important for all patients, and it is also vital to identify those who are at risk of experiencing complications from the disease,” he explained.

According Doc Call 24/7 SLMA Working Group Chair Dr. Ruvaiz Haniffa, although 80% of those who are infected with the virus are asymptomatic, the chances of the situation taking a dangerous turn is high, and as such, he urged all patients to seek medical assistance using the 24/7 hotline.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that the Delta (B.1.617.2) Covid-19 variant of Indian origin is at least two times as transmissible as the original virus. Sri Lanka is currently facing a severe spread of the Delta variant in all districts. The Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) said that 4,355 new cases and 194 deaths were reported on 23 August due to the virus.