10% COVID-19 patients untraceable –GMOA
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
The Health Ministry is unable to identify addresses or living areas of at least ten per cent of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 on a daily basis, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) said, cautioning the Ministry that these persons would move about, spreading the virus.
Speaking to the Media, GMOA Executive Committee Member, Dr. Haritha Aluthge, said the GMOA submitted proposals regarding the handling of these patients. “If the Health Ministry cannot trace the addresses of ten percent of patients diagnosed with the virus on a daily basis, it could turn out to be a serious issue when it comes to contact tracing as well. These persons don’t seem to know where they live, therefore the Health Ministry is also helpless,” he said.
Dr. Aluthge urged the Health Ministry and the Epidemiology Unit to recommend policies on which the Government could act if there was a community spread of the virus. 749 patients had been diagnosed, with 13,000 PCR tests conducted on Sunday (17). He said there was a marked increase in the positive rate of the infected, which amounted to 5.25, which is about five per cent. The Director General of Health Services (DGHS) said the cut-off point which signifies a community spread was five per cent. “Therefore, are we still waiting for a further increase to signify a community spread or will the health authorities take the necessary action,” he said.
The public expect 2021 to be better, after the dark period of 2020, when COVID-19 dominated the lives of everyone. While some schools have reopened, there was some uncertainty in the Western Province regarding reopening of schools. Also, the airport is scheduled to reopen on Thursday (21), the G.C.E. Ordinary Level Examinations are to be held, public transport services need to resume, while people have to adapt to the new normal. However, to enable these, the Health Ministry should make the necessary recommendations, as to how the Government should fine-tune the process of taking the country forward, under the prevailing pandemic conditions, he said.
Dr. Aluthge said the union was receiving information from its branches that there was an issue regarding the availability of intensive care unit beds, owing to the increasing number of patients being detected. Earlier, the health service was able to strike a balance, as the number of patients who were cured and sent home surpassed the number of patients diagnosed with COVID-19. But the situation has changed, as now the numbers diagnosed virus are more than those being discharged. He warned that this could be a severe strain on the care and services provided by hospitals, as well as on disease surveillance. “The surveillance that the Medical Officers of Health (MOH) and Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) can provide is limited,” Dr. Aluthge said..