SLMA urges the President to continue current lockdown measures

In a letter addressed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa today (19), the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) urged for the uninterrupted continuation of current lockdown measures.

“Lifting the lockdown even for a few days is likely to take us back to the major epidemic situation which prevailed in April this year. The gains that have been made during the lockdown of the last three weeks will then be sacrificed, and it will take all that much longer and a tremendous effort on the part of all stakeholders, to return us even to this level of control again,” the SLMA stated.

Commenting on the decision to lift the travel restrictions from the 21st to 23rd and re-impose them from 23rd to 25th June, the SLMA highlighted that the basis for such a decision is unclear to the Association

“The country is still experiencing more than 2000 new cases and around 50 deaths every day. To complicate this situation further, there is also evidence of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus being prevalent in the community. This variant is fifty per cent more transmissible than the currently dominant variant. We foresee that a release of the current lockdown even for a few days will lead to the uncontrolled free movement of people and would thereby lead to an alarming increase in transmission, with rapid spread of the new variant. The epidemic will thereby escalate to an unprecedented level, causing increasing numbers of cases and unacceptable mortality, on a scale that could completely overwhelm the health system,” the SLMA explained.

Further, the SLMA stated that there is a considerable variation in the number of new cases, and a burden on the healthcare facilities between districts. In terms of easing the lockdowns when appropriate, the SLMA stated that it should be done in a carefully phased manner on a district-basis, grounded on reliable real-time data at district level, rather than in the country as a whole.

“The SLMA & SLMA Inter-Collegiate Committee (SMIC) are in the process of developing an “exit strategy” that will be handed over to the Government of Sri Lanka during the course of this week. In it we recommend establishing district level Committees of Community Physicians to analyse good quality real-time data and decide on the level of mobility restriction within the district on the basis of several relevant criteria that we have identified. District level decisions will need guidance from and overall agreement of the Ministry of Health,” the SLMA stated.