The country might soon face a COVID disaster of unprecedented major proportions where we would even have to be selective as to whom we would treat and whom we are compelled to succumb to the disease, Medical Professionals warned today.
In a letter to the President, the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA), the Government Medical Officers' Association (GMOA), the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS), together with the SLMA Intercollegiate Committee (SMIC), warned that the COVID deaths may reach unprecedented levels and that would be a real potential threat in the near future.
“We wish to emphasise that all healthcare resources are being overwhelmed, as indicated by the rapid increase in the utilization of all health sector beds and healthcare facilities by COVID patients.
The number requiring oxygen is very quickly and exponentially rising while waiting for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and hospital beds, is also occurring,” they underlined.
The Medical Professionals were also concerned with the fact that the numbers of patients waiting at home for a bed were increasing and added there were significant delays in providing beds and in-patient care to those who really deserve it.
“In such a context, an increase in deaths over the next three weeks or more would be unavoidable. The COVID deaths may reach unprecedented levels and a grave national catastrophe is a real potential threat in the near future,” the Medial Professionals stressed.
They said as such it had become essential to provide relief to overwhelmed hospitals and to do everything possible to buy time until at least 60 per cent of our people are vaccinated.
Against this backdrop, they requested the President to consider implementing the following recommendations as early as possible.
1. Implement strict restrictions of movements of people by very stringent implementation of the Extraordinary Government Gazette notification on controlling COVID-19, published in October 2020.
2. Decide on implementation of selected Lockdown Processes of certain areas, based only on scientific evidence of the density of caseloads. Restriction of inter-district movement of people would also be necessary if and when indicated.
3. Maintain supplies to and services provided by selected essential service sectors and economic hubs under stringent monitoring for COVID-19 infections and scrupulous attention to preventive strategies.
4. Authorize the isolation of families at homes, along with* home management of asymptomatic cases, while being carefully and assiduously monitored by health care professionals. This should be complemented by arrangements being made for early transfer of needy patients with pneumonia, to the closest designated hospitals.
5. Strengthen the curative sector by supplying adequate facilities such as beds, oxygen and ICU facilities.
6. Strengthen the laboratory services island-wide for diagnosis of COVID-19 with PCR testing and also by ensuring steady and uninterrupted supply chain.
7. Implement widespread vaccination in adequate doses at the earliest possible opportunity.
“If all of us do not put our collective shoulder to the wheel, the authorities may be compelled to implement even stricter lockdown control measures as well as even curfews, to try and control the ravages of this pandemic," the Medical Professionals added.
They reiterated that if the government does not act now, it would mean even more severe and sustained hardships for the general populace in the near future. (Sheain Fernandopulle)