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Chinese PCR kits: Officials play down concerns

29 April 2020 06:36 pm - 8     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


The Ministry of Health today played down concerns raised over antibody testing kits from China after India suspended use of the testing kits.

A report circulating on social media yesterday raised concerns over the kits being used in Sri Lanka and alleged that they have not been tested for quality.

However, Director General of Health Services, Dr. Anil Jasinghe said that the concerns were unfounded.

He told Daily Mirror in a brief interview that while every testing kit cannot be used in Sri Lanka, there could be inferior quality ones among those imported to Sri Lanka.

However, he insisted that every testing kit is validated before it is put to use.

He also spoke on the ongoing testing process and other related matters. (Easwaran Rutnam)


Excerpts of the interview with Dr. Anil Jasinghe 


What is the status of the coronavirus pandemic in Sri Lanka? There are concerns among the public over the recent rise in numbers reported. Are we seeing large numbers now because of an increase in testing?

No not really. We are seeing this rise because of the Navy issue (Navy personal at Welisara Navy campy being detected with COVID-19). We have diagnosed possibly all of them by now. The rise was because of screening and diagnosing them. The day before we had about 65 people being diagnosed and now the number has come to 31. That’s because we’re almost done. But then we have to be careful and mindful about who has associated with them because some of these people have gone to their homes, in various parts of Sri Lanka and associated with their family members, and perhaps with friends. So the health sector and State Intelligence Services (SIS) are on the watch as how this would evolve. So of course the family members have been quarantined by now and therefore we have to be watchful. Generally, we get to know of their primary and secondary contacts and then we are watchful of them. There is a possibility that we will get more cases from the areas where these people have visited.


How is the PCR testing process going on now? Have you increased the numbers? Are you going to increase it further?

Now we have the capacity to do about 1500 tests. That’s the testing capacity in the laboratories. However, testing does not only mean the laboratory capacity. We have to take the sample by transport. When we take samples, there are ingredients that are required for this. And you need trained teams for this. All in all we can say that by now, in the field we can cater to more than 1500 and in the laboratories we are going to further increase our capacity in collaboration with the university authorities. There’s also another lab coming up in the Mulleriyawa hospital premises with the assistance of Asian Development Bank. That lab will have the highest capacity in Sri Lanka. It is said to be able to conduct 1000 tests a day. So that is how we will move forward. On the one hand, the testing number depends on the capacity, on the other hand it depends on the requirement.   


In your assessment, how are things looking so far? Where do we stand as a country in the whole process you are doing now?

It’s like this. We have had so many clusters from the beginning and as you know, almost all the clusters we have managed. I think 8 clusters, if you go by names, you can see so many clusters being wiped out, basically Beruwala, Athurugama, Puttalam, Jaffna, Vaikkal and Negombo, Ratnapura. So basically they have been wiped out. So this is because of the work we have done. Not because of anything else. If we had just let it go, there would have been a disaster. Similarly, in Suduwella and Bandaranayake, the biggest  clusters that we have ever encountered, following these Navy numbers are also being very well-managed. We are almost done with these two, but it is difficult because they are urban areas and sometimes drug-addicts are involved and poor social economic areas. Obviously the density is very high. There are a lot of factors.


Is there any discussion on controlling the activities of the Navy in the whole operation? Since a large number of Navy officers have been found to have contracted the virus?

This has happened unfortunately, because the Navy has been in the forefront working with us. From the outset, they have helped us. And of course, they can apply their knowledge and skills with us. But unfortunately this happened. But no there is no move to stop their involvement.


There is also a report circulating which has raised a lot of concerns over the PCR testing kits we have got from China. I believe India has stopped using this, because they have some concerns.

I think that is a kind of misinformation. And also, every test cannot be used with every machinery. So there may be kits that cannot be used in Sri Lanka. Also there can be inferior ones. But the thing is we validate all these test kits in Sri Lanka and following validation only do we use them. And we have to understand that the majority of test kits are coming from China.


  Comments - 8

  • BuffaloaCitizen Wednesday, 29 April 2020 07:13 PM

    When the only free restaurant in your country is Chinese Take Away, then you learn to talk like this "unfounded" "there could be inferior quality" "validated before putting to use" which is like not angering the Restaurant Owner who is now your Master.

    vithura Wednesday, 29 April 2020 07:51 PM

    No, no, we are more wiser than Indian scientists, we will just use them!

    Dee Wednesday, 29 April 2020 07:54 PM

    Are these the 5$(fob) kits?

    Testkits Wednesday, 29 April 2020 08:02 PM

    How many test kits have used so far ? how many chinese test kits have used so far?

    Chinese suckers Wednesday, 29 April 2020 08:04 PM

    German has already testing the vaccine but our people will lick Chinese asses. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE DEAD IN SRILANKA. You say only 7 for ever.

    Sunil P Wednesday, 29 April 2020 08:06 PM

    Not just India but even European,Asian and African countries have thoroughly discredited most of the Chinese test kits. The UK health minister even stated in parliament that they would be pursuing a refund for the millions of pounds spent on the antibody test kits. These tests have been providing errors rates of up to 70%.. worse than a coin toss. The Chinese PCr kits are not far behind. I hope out authorities are just being diplomatic they have been tossed out if the quality checks have failed.

    saman Thursday, 30 April 2020 04:50 AM

    Chinese PCR kits were previously rejected by Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and now India. Most of those kits sent to EU have an error rate of up to 90%. Please think twice before using them. Please don't jeopardise safety of innocent Sri Lankans to please China! Please.

    Janith Thursday, 30 April 2020 07:05 AM

    The people will give a no of deaths after curfew. The truth will come out.

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