Colombo, Oct 29 (AdaDerana) – Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) says it is more important than ever before to take precise steps at this point of time within the context of the current regulations to prevent another surge of infections.
In a letter directed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the SLMA chief Dr. Padma Gunaratne noted that another wave of infections will be extremely deleterious to the health and the economy of the country.
While appreciating the decisions taken by the government to mitigate the last wave of COVID-19 outbreak, lessons learnt from the recent outbreaks in the countries such as the United Kingdom, Singapore and Israel compel them to believe that another wave is imminent, particularly now that movement restrictions have been lifted.
In its recommendations, the SLMA called for stringent enforcement of current regulations by monitoring. “It is noted that although reasonable guidelines and regulations on public health measures have been issued by the Ministry of Health. The implementation of these measures is extremely lax, and that they are widely disobeyed by the public.”
The SLMA said many do not adhere to wearing masks, and social distancing is not maintained in public places such as shops, markets, places of worship, and event such as funerals.
It urged the government to take adequate measures to enforce these regulations issued by the Director-General Health Services are fully implemented.
Third dose or a booster of Pfizer vaccine should be administered to priority groups, the SLMA said further.
“It has been established that 7% of elders who received Sinopharm vaccine in Sri Lanka have not developed an adequate level of immunity against COVID-19. The re-opening of schools and lifting of mobility restrictions will significantly increase the risk of these elders contracting COVID-19 infection such as via their grandchildren, and they are more prone than other age groups to severe disease and death. Furthermore, healthcare professionals are now completing six months following the last dose of their Covishield vaccine and their immunity levels will begin to wane. They will soon be at a greatly increased risk of contracting the COVID-19 infection,”
The SLMA accordingly recommended that people over 60 years of age, patients less than 60 years with immune deficiency states and all healthcare professionals should be given a third dose or a booster of the Pfizer vaccine without delay. This should be considered as one of the highest priority activities to prevent another wave of infections in the near future, the association noted.
The SLMA further recommended the continuation of restrictions on super-spreader situations and events: crowded enclosed environments constitute super-spreader situations for COVID-19 infection.
“As such we earnestly request the government to delay for a further period of time the complete relaxation of regulations pertaining to public events by restricting numbers at weddings, religious events, funerals, musical shows, gatherings at clubs etc in enclosed environments.”
The SLMA went on to call the government to sustain a high level of case surveillance by testing: Early detection of a rise in infections would be extremely important if the next wave of infection is to be prevented. Careful surveillance would enable the government to take prompt action to prevent an escalation of the disease, again. “As such strengthening the routine surveillance system for COVID-19 is of paramount importance. In this regard we request the Ministry of Health to maintain a high level of testing for COVID-19 including in the community, and to strengthen the ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Tract Infections’ (SARI) surveillance system in OPDs of all major hospitals.”