Bandara’s Quick Fix Puts Authorities in a Big Fix
By Methmalie Dissanayake
A noticeable increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in Kegalle was observed in the past few weeks, and health authorities are now wondering whether this new development is the result of the mass gatherings that were drawn there in a bid to grab a portion of the magic concoction made by a witch doctor.
The Public Health Inspectors’ Union Sri Lanka (PHIUSL) said that a higher level of the virus had been observed during PCR tests conducted on COVID-19 patients identified in Kegalle.
Secretary of PHIUSL, Mahendra Balasooriya, said that unlike the prevalent COVID-19 strain, the patients being diagnosed in the Kegalle area showed several symptoms of the infection which were not shown in patients reported from other areas of the country.
Patients who tested positive with the current corona strain have no symptoms or show only one symptom of the infection such as throat pain or cough or fever.
Balasooriya noted that there was also a sudden influx of COVID-19 patients being diagnosed from Kegalle, and its surrounding areas, which he said had the health authorities worried.
Quarantine centres in Kegalle have not only had repatriates, but with the anti-COVID syrup and its distribution there was a sudden surge of people coming to the area from all parts of the country.
Also, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) too has expressed concern regarding a mutation of the current virus.
During a Media briefing, GMOA Executive Committee Member Dr. Haritha Aluthge also expressed concern over the sudden surge of COVID-19 patients in Kegalle.
He said that many patients who are reported from Kegalle have high fever. The Government should be deeply concerned about this to determine whether a new strain of coronavirus has spread in Kegalle, he pointed out.
He said that the symptoms showed by COVID-19 patients in the area are rare in other areas of the country.
“It is better to send virus samples of COVID-19 patients reported from Kegalle to test whether a new coronavirus is spreading in the area. Also, authorities should look into whether this sudden increase of patients happened due to the mass gatherings in front of Dhammika Bandara’s house to get his potion,” Dr. Aluthge noted.
Number of patients from Kegalle so far
It was reported recently that a Member of a Pradeshiya Sabha from Kegalle, who had consumed the potion made by Dammika Bandara, had contracted COVID-19.
According to Ceylon Today Kegalle Correspondent Damunupola Chaminda, in addition to the PS Member and his wife, their children, three daughters and a son, have also tested COVID-19 positive. All of them had consumed Dhammika Bandara’s potion.
Chaminda said the PS Member and his family live less than one kilometre from the place where Bandara distributes the potion. They are currently receiving treatment at a treatment centre in Warakapola.
About six people, who consumed the tonic, and even then contracted COVID-19, were first identified in the Warakapola area. After that the number of patients who consumed the potion earlier, rose to 18.
Currently, about 1,500 COVID -19 patients have been reported from the Kegalle area and 22 deaths have also been reported, Chaminda said.
Current situation of the ‘Dhammika Potion’
Meanwhile, clinical trials on Dhammika’s Potion have been started in Anuradhapura.
Clinical trials are being conducted at Methsirisewana, which is affiliated to Teaching Hospital, Anuradhapura and the Nochchiyagama Divisional Hospital where there are COVID-19 centres. The paper regarding the clinical trials is published on Sri Lanka Clinical Trials Registry as well.
The paper says that the study protocol of the potion will be published in an open access journal.
“All de-identified individual participant data will be available. All data will be available to the Ministry of Health immediately after the study. Data will be available three months after publication and up to five years after publication for anybody who submits ethical and methodologically sound proposal. Informed consent forms, analysis plans and codes can be made available on request. Requests can be directed to the PI or the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka,” the paper said.