COVID-19 Delta variant runs riot in Sri Lanka: Three patients die every one hour | Inquirer News
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COVID-19 Delta variant runs riot in Sri Lanka: Three patients die every one hour

/ 04:30 PM August 08, 2021
sri lanka covid-19

People sit in a queue as they wait to receive a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus in Colombo on August 5, 2021. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)

COLOMBO — As hospitals and allied medical facilities reached breaking point in the backdrop of the virulent Delta strain of the coronavirus, Sri Lanka’s top national professional medical body called for the re-imposition of travel restrictions to curb the rapid transmission of the deadly variant.

“That’s the only solution to combat surging caseloads in the short term”, says the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA).

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The final outcome could be disastrous if there’s no decisive action at this juncture to clamp down on unrestricted public movement as the country is on the brink of the fourth wave, SLMA Vice President, Consultant Endocrinologist, Dr. Manilka Sumanatilleke warned.

The Colombo area was found to be particularly vulnerable as most of the positive cases that have emerged so far were linked to the highly transmissible Delta variant, medical officials said.

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“The infection is spreading super fast,” they cautioned, while pointing out that the spike in the caseload and the mortality rate reported on a daily basis was due to Delta surfacing as the dominant Covid-19 strain.

Director of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine of the Sri Jayewardenepura University, Dr. Chandima Jeewandara, confirmed that 75% of the Covid-19 cases detected in Colombo during the last week of July were associated with the Delta variant.

The rapid spread of the strain in Colombo has become increasingly clear because in the first week of July, only 13% Delta infections were found following laboratory testing on Covid-19 variants, he said.

Initially detected in the Dematagoda area, the strain has spread rapidly to many other parts of the country bringing in its wake a bigger caseload, which has overwhelmed the country’s health sector.

According to latest figures, 94 Covid related deaths were reported (49 males and 45 females), while 1,885 positive cases were reported on August 5. This has pushed up the total caseload to 320,640 and the death toll to 4,821 so far.

The situation is so grave that there are three Covid linked deaths in Sri Lanka every hour, Dr. Sumanatilleke explained.

“The frequency of accommodating patients have already been exceeded in Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Galle, Kununegala and Puttalam”.

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The virus is spreading faster than the ongoing inoculation drive, he said, while stressing that the only option to combat the growing threat is to re-impose travel restrictions.

The government must be proactive in addressing the crisis without allowing the situation to reach alarming proportions, he noted.

With hospitals at maximum capacity in terms of patient’ admissions, the whole outlook is frightening, he pointed out.

Though the SLMA and other professional medical bodies have called for a fresh travel ban, there has still not been a positive response from the health sector.

Government medical officials have expressed confidence that galloping infection numbers can be tackled by broad-basing the ongoing inoculation drive.

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TAGS: COVID-19, Delta variant, Health, Sri Lanka
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