90% of hospital beds occupied

By Dilanthi Jayamanne, Eunice Ruth, Chamara Amarasuriya, Ranjith Rajapaksa and M.A.P. Deen | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 27 2020
News 90% of hospital beds occupied

By Dilanthi Jayamanne, Eunice Ruth, Chamara Amarasuriya, Ranjith Rajapaksa and M.A.P. Deen

Chief Epidemiologist, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera, said the Health Ministry had alternatives lined up to meet the rising demand for hospital beds for the increasing number of COVID-19 patients.

Responding to questions at a Media briefing held yesterday (26) at the Health Promotion Bureau (HPB), Dr. Samaraweera said only 90.7 per cent of hospital beds allocated for COVID-19 patient treatment were occupied. Another 10 per cent remained vacant. Therefore, currently there is adequate bed strength for COVID-19 treatment purposes. 

However, the Health Ministry has alternative measures in place in case the existing beds were insufficient, he said.    

Deputy Director General, Dr. Hemantha Herath said the public need not be concerned if there were homes that were under quarantine in their neighbourhoods. There was no threat of them contracting the virus from them. There is a well-organised mechanism in place to transfer persons undergoing quarantine, from their homes to hospitals, if they contract the virus. 

Those left behind would be their close contacts, who need to be quarantined in case they too have contracted the virus. Remember these are not patients, he said, pointing out that even at the Colombo East Base Hospital, the COVID-19 patients were kept in a ward which had a half wall, so that there was good ventilation. However, this had not posed a threat to the hospital’s neighbours, he said. 

Meanwhile, ten COVID-19 patients were detected at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children (LRH), of whom seven were children, LRH Director, Dr. G. Wijesuriya said. 

Dr. Wijesuriya said the patients had been diagnosed on Sunday (25), following a PCR test conducted earlier. Three of them were the mothers of those children. They lived in the surrounding areas of Colombo, he said, and had connections to the Peliyagoda Fish Market. 

Dr. Wijesuriya said the children had contracted the virus from either of their parents. 

The LRH Director said measures had been taken to transfer the patients to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID). Responding to questions as to whether their presence had led to the closure of any wards and affected the staff, he said a safe system was in place to ensure that the staff or the wards were not affected.    

Three camps housing STF personnel have been isolated following the diagnosis of COVID-19 patients. 

Police Media Spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana, said currently 10 STF personnel from the STF’s Welfare Unit, who had been to the Peliyagoda Fish Market are said to have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus. With the outbreak of the Peliyagoda Fish Market sub-cluster, measures were taken to quarantine the ten STF personnel, while three camps at Kelaniya, Kalubowila and Rajagiriya were declared as isolated areas, Rohana said. 

He added that 82 soldiers who had served at the three camps had been subjected to the quarantine programme.

Measures are also being taken to conduct PCR tests on all STF personnel in the three camps. 

Two patients employed at the Peliyagoda Fish Market have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the Hatton-Kotagala area. The Kotagala Public Health Inspector (PHI), S. Ragawan said the two patients had come home for a holiday, when he had instructed them to self-isolate, after the detection of COVID-19 patients at the Peliyagoda Fish Market. A PCR test conducted on them subsequently tested positive. 

One of the two employees from the Peliyagoda Fish Market had travelled from the Pettah Bus Stand to Hatton on Thursday (22) in the 2:00 p.m. bus, while he switched buses from Hatton to travel to his home in Kotagala. 

The infected persons live close to the Kotagala Town. It has resulted in the closure of shops in the town on a decision taken by the trade association, while the Kotagala Pradeshiya Sabha has taken measures to disinfect the area. 

A resident of the Ratnillakele village in the Thalawakele Police division was also diagnosed with COVID-19. This patient also works at the Peliyagoda Fish Market. 

Media Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Nelson Edirisingha also noted that a new antigen test will be introduced this week, to diagnose COVID-19 patients. The system was being introduced as there is a delay in obtaining the result of the PCR test. “Using this antigen test we can get the results within four hours, while the PCR tests take two days,” he added.

The public have been advised to take all precautionary measures, by adhering to the Department of Health’s guidelines.

Nine COVID-19 patients were detected in Kalmunai and Pottuvil. According to reports, three people in Kalmunai, five people in Pottuvil and one person in Maruthamunai, who had connections to the Peliyagoda Fish Market have been confirmed as having contracted the virus. They were sent to the Karadiyanaru Quarantine Hospital in Batticaloa District, while their contacts were instructed to self-quarantine. 

The Grama Niladhari Divisions of Mathurancholai, Paddiveli, Kiravalkulam, Komari and Jaica in the Pottuvil Divisional Secretariat Division have been declared as isolated areas, while the public living at Haniffa Road in Kalmunai and Imam Gazaali Road in Maruthamunai were advised to remain confined to their homes. 

Meanwhile, an official said, so far, 132 persons in Kalmunai and 40 persons in Pottuvil have undergone PCR tests and are awaiting reports.

Army and Police personnel deployed on main roads are giving firm instructions to wear masks and maintain social distancing. They also warned the public that anyone who doesn’t obey these regulations will be severely dealt with.

Meanwhile, the Kalmunai Municipal Council advised the public not to gather in large numbers, meetings and other functions

According to reports, three people in Kalmunai, five people in Pottuvil and one person in Maruthamunai tested COVID-19 positive. They have been sent to Karadiyanaaru Quarantine Hospital, while their relatives and others who were acquainted with them were instructed to self-quarantine at their residences.

An official said so far 132 persons in Kalmunai and 40 persons in Pottuvil have undergone PCR tests and are awaiting reports.

By Dilanthi Jayamanne, Eunice Ruth, Chamara Amarasuriya, Ranjith Rajapaksa and M.A.P. Deen | Published: 2:00 AM Oct 27 2020

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