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Covid makes a comeback!

27 July 2022 01:45 am - 2     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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“Is COVID back after a break?” “Is this influenza, a viral flu or COVID?”

 

  • If there happens to be a new variant of Omicron the spread could be faster but not so harmful as many of the citizens have gotten at least the 1st dose of vaccine
  • According to the WHO, some people get this virus but only show very mild symptoms and don’t feel ill at all

 

These questions have been buzzing in our heads over the past few weeks as health authorities warned of several types of contagious respiratory illnesses have taken hold of our communities. From headlining the evening news every day, we have come to almost forgetting about COVID-19 until this week.


Although Sri Lanka was successful in handling the first wave of the pandemic, the inability to cope with the second and the third waves of the pandemic caused a rise in COVID-19 infected cases and deaths since November 2020. 
Since 2020, at different timelines with virus variants, the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread across the world, collapsing delicate healthcare systems. Its impact was so harmful and negative that we still are finding out ways to rebuild. However, the economic crisis in Sri Lanka turned the public’s attention completely away from COVID as putting food on the table took more importance with skyrocketing inflation. 


Yet in the recent past, it has been stated that there has been a spread of an influenza virus which is also suspected to be a new variant of Delta or Omicron. As of July 25, 2022, the Epidemiology Department has confirmed 75 new cases within a day, while 2 deaths were also reported.
Considering this spike in numbers, this week, the Health Services Director General Dr. Asela Gunawardena issued a communique strongly recommending the use of face masks when indoors, when using public transport and when taking part in public gatherings.

COVID waves and the variants

Variants: 
 SARS-CoV-2
 Delta variant, sub lineage,B.1.617.2.104 
 Omicron lineages BA.1 and BA.2.

COVID or Influenza?

 Discovering several patients presenting with symptoms such as fever, phlegm and cough has many of us wondering if this is COVID, another new variant or the common cold. Daily Mirror spoke to several health officials who stated that one illness which is rapidly spreading among the public has so far been identified as the influenza virus, adding that it has not yet been confirmed if it is something else, even though the symptoms remain the same as COVID-19. Following this, the government health officials urged the public to stay safe, especially while in queues, public transport and any other gathering. 


“As the risk of COVID is still found in countries like India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Japan and Australia, possibilities are high of the disease spreading in our country from passengers who travel from these countries” said Mr. Upul Rohana, president of the PHI union. He further added that if there happens to be a new variant of Omicron the spread could be faster but not so harmful as many of the citizens have gotten at least the 1st dose of vaccine.

Symptoms of Influenza

According to the WHO, some people get this virus but only show very mild symptoms and don’t feel ill at all. Those who are considered vulnerable to the disease are the elderly, children, pregnant  mothers and those with existing conditions like heart disease, diabetes and/or high blood pressure.


Main symptoms :

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath

Other symptoms include :

  • Runny nose
  • Aches and pains
  • Congestion
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of taste and smell

PCR / Rapid Antigen Tests 

Health officials state the government sectors are no longer doing PCR tests but the Rapid Antigen Tests are done by the MOH officials across the country. 

Vaccination

The COVID vaccination programmes are being conducted.
In Colombo District - 
1st dose  - 95%
2nd dose - 88%
3rd dose - 68% 
4th dose - less than 20% 

The Epidemiology Unit confirmed in a report in 2021 that at least 2,789,537
of the population has taken the first dose and 1,077,086 of the population the second dose. It is mentioned that the numbers of vaccinated have increased since January 2022. 
“We advise the citizens who have not yet gotten the missed dose or doses of the vaccine to get it as soon as possible to reduce the risk of being exposed to virus flues,” said Dr. Dinuka Guruge, Regional Epidemiologist, Colombo.

Situation in Colombo 

The normal routine of citizens becoming disorderly due to the pandemic made the public seek for alternative methods to function their daily routine. However this did not bring COVID into consideration due to bigger problems (food and fuel shortage) faced by the public. We asked several residents of Colombo to weigh in.


“We know that COVID is not over. But how do we carry on with our lives if we have to make staying safe a priority and not travel to work in public transport due to the fuel crisis?” One man struggling to keep his family afloat said. 
Another resident said COVID is the last thing on their mind. “Staying in queues has now become part of our lives. Even though I personally try to maintain at least an arm distance, it doesn’t really work as everyone’s aim is to quickly receive the essentials and leave safely.” 


“Subconsciously the public is still afraid of COVID. I see people wearing masks while travelling and there are many places which continue to do the temperature check and hand sanitizing. So I think right now the solutions for COVID and Crisis are going hand in hand,” a Doctor based in Colombo said.


“Wearing your own personal face mask for your own safety also paves the way for the safety of the society,” said Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni, Chief MedicalOfficer of the Colombo Municipal Council. The doctors and health officials urge the public to follow the health protocols in order to combat the comeback of Covid and other sub viral flues.

Health guidelines:

  • Wear the face mask when in public
  • Sanitize your hands 
  • Maintain social distance
  • Consult the doctor if there are symptoms of the flu
  • Keep working on the home remedies (steaming, consumption of warm water and other warm beverages)

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  Comments - 2

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  • GERIATRIC Monday, 01 August 2022 08:25 PM

    PREVENTION IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN CURE...THEREFORE EVERYONE SHOULD BE PRO-ACTIVE.

    Allan Poing Tuesday, 02 August 2022 04:14 PM

    It is not a come back; it has never been gone. Brace yourself for the sub variant of Omicron that is raging through India. It’ll be soon here. Read the papers of the latest research in which is said that covid will never be a mere flu or a mere seasonal cough. Boosters suggested from 60 to 20 years of age.


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