- Cabinet approves funds for more PCR tests
- 3,000 beds to be added to existing 14,455; ICU facilities to also be expanded
- Cabinet Spokesman says 100,000 doses of Sputnik V expected each Friday until 7 m completed
- Working to get AstraZeneca from alternative source
Cabinet yesterday approved additional funds for the Government to purchase PCR test kits and said hospital beds would be increased by 3,000 over the next few days to deal with rising numbers in COVID-19 patients.
Cabinet Co-Spokesman Dr. Ramesh Pathirana told the weekly briefing that approval had been given to a Cabinet paper submitted by Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi to release funds to purchase PCR test kits.
However, he declined to disclose the amount of funds.
“Daily PCR tests have increased to more than 20,000 and there is a need to purchase more kits to ramp up testing. In addition, the Government will take steps to increase bed capacity by about 3,000 over the next few days to meet the influx of more patients. Currently the bed capacity is 14,455,” he said. The number of intensive care facilities dedicated to COVID-19 treatment is also to be expanded from 58 to 105 soon.
Dr. Pathirana also called on the public to utilise the 1906 hotline if there were any COVID-19 positive people at home. In response to multiple questions from media he insisted that the Government would improve access to hospitals as well.
Dr. Pathirana also denied there was any political involvement in designating isolated areas and said health officials have been given the authority to make such decisions. Referring to Transport Minister Gamini Lokuge’s request to lift isolation in Piliyandala, the Cabinet Co-Spokesman insisted that health officials in the area will be allowed to take decisions without political pressure.
After receiving the first consignment of Sputnik V vaccines yesterday, Cabinet Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella also said the Government was likely to receive additional shipments of 100,000 doses every Friday till the full order of seven million is filled. These will be rolled out as soon as possible.
Dr. Pathirana also said mixing doses would not be done until sanctioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) and that the Government was looking at alternate sources to procure AstraZeneca vaccines to administer the second jab.
Rambukwella echoed his colleague and emphasised that large scale isolations or lockdowns would be decided on by the Government dependent on the evolving situation, adding that no such calls have yet been made.
“It is clear COVID-19 responses cannot be a one size fits all. Health officials and others must deal with this situation as it evolves, and this is what the Government is focused on. As it stands there is no plan to institute a lockdown but there could be isolation imposed on selected areas depending on the assessment done by officials in those areas. Developed countries and developing countries cannot always follow the same measures.”