Director General of Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe today cleared the air surrounding the stopping of PCR tests done by the lab at Sri Jayewardenepura University stating that it was done in agreement with the university authorities after several discussions with them due to some false positives that had come from it.
Dr. Jasinghe said that the accuracy of PCR tests depend on a number of factors and the lab at Sri Jayewardenepura University was a reputed one.
He said the decision was taken following discussions with the university authorities and the Professors attached to it and there was no issue surrounding it.
He was replying a question raised at a meeting with Newspaper Editors and Media Heads Chaired by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees today.
A question was asked regarding the allegation made by opposition politicians and particularly former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe about the stopping of PCR tests done at Sri Jayawardenepura University.
Dr. Jasinghe explained that during the period when there were no new Covid-19 cases being reported within society, a false positive could create a huge impact and such a situation arose with a case reported from Jinthupitiya.
He said that afterwards five more PCR tests were conducted on the person concerned (three at MRI and two at IDH) and they gave a negative result.
He said when a positive result comes and there is no epidemiological link to it, a decision has to be taken about the results of the test. He said when there is no clear epidemiological link it raises many concern regarding a positive result.
Dr. Jasinghe said that the most comprehensive lab to conduct PCR test in the country is the lab at the Medical Research Institute (MRI) and it was linked to Professor Mallik Frenando’s lab in Singapore.
Of all labs that conduct PCR tests he said there were only three that are 100 percent in compliance with the WHO standards in this matter and they were at MRI, Karapitiya and Kandy.
Dr. Jasinghe indicated that this had become an issue after an email thread pertaining to the matter had gone outside the intended persons. He said that there was no need for such an issue.
Joining in, Higher Education Minister Bandula Gunawardana said that when raising such matters in the media and public, everyone should be careful so as not to raise an unnecessary issue out of it.
He said that the Jayawardenepura University lab was an internationally accredited one that also collaborates on research work with Oxford and Harvard universities as well.
He said when such issues are raised in the media, it could harm the reputation of the institutions as well and the High Commissioner of UK had called and inquired about this matter since the Lab was linked with Oxford University.
Health Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi said that the lab at Sri Jayawardenepura University had done yeoman service during the entire Covid-19 crisis as it had done PCR tests with great dedication.
She said that they were grateful to the staff at the lab who worked tirelessly day and night during the entire period.