1,554 persons test positive for COVID-19; health sector warns of fourth wave

Wednesday, 21 July 2021 00:20 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Delta will soon be dominant variant: SLMA
  • Says PCR testing provides reliable data, testing can be increased if necessary
  • 10,436 PCR tests carried out yesterday
  • Total COVID-19 detections rise to 287,973

By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya

Health officials yesterday warned of the onset of the fourth wave of COVID-19 in the country with the Delta variant soon becoming the dominant variant in 50% of the country’s population.

Addressing the media yesterday, Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) President Dr. Padma Gunaratne said the SLMA believed the country was nearing the initial stages of the fourth wave, based on information received on the country’s COVID-19 treatment system.

“Based on current data, we can assume that, as of today, 30% of Colombo Municipal Council population have the Delta variant. Therefore, before long, there is no doubt that the Delta variant will be the predominant variant in 50% of the country’s population,” Dr. Gunaratne said.

The testing strategy implemented in the country has been criticised due to the drop in daily PCR testing. However, in response to a question on testing, the SLMA President said that previously 80% of PCR tests carried out were exit PCR tests of persons leaving quarantine or treatment centres.

However, the exit PCR tests have now been replaced with rapid antigen tests. “They have now distributed PCRs among districts as well as places like hospitals. If necessary, we could increase the number of PCRs because we used to carry out a much bigger number but as we go by the proportion, I think it now gives more reliable information though it does not give accurate precise information,” she said.

According to the Health Promotion Bureau, 10,436 PCR tests were carried out yesterday and 1,554 persons tested positive for COVID-19. Among the detections were 1,511 persons linked to the New Year cluster.

The Divulapitiya, Peliyagoda, Prisons and New Year clusters have thus expanded to 279,705 and the cumulative patient count includes 184,661 patients from the New Year cluster, 82,785 patients from the Peliyagoda cluster, 7,679 patients from the Prisons cluster, and 3,059 patients from the Divulapitiya cluster. In addition to the local cases, 5,993 Sri Lankan overseas arrivals and 328 foreigners have tested positive for COVID-19.

This includes the 1,487 COVID-19 patients detected on Monday, of which 1,423 were from the New Year cluster, 41 were from the Prisons cluster and 23 were Sri Lankan overseas arrivals.

On Monday, 12,039 PCR tests and 2,892 rapid antigen tests were carried out. The COVID-19 detections on Monday include 217 persons from Kalutara, 213 persons from Galle, and 164 persons from Colombo.

During the third wave of the pandemic, 33,724 persons from Colombo, 32,241 persons from Gampaha, and 24,303 persons from Kalutara have tested positive for COVID-19.

The overall COVID-19 detections include 66,021 patients from Colombo, 50,775 patients from Gampaha, 31,361 patients from Kalutara, 14,811 patients from Kurunegala, and 14,048 patients from Kandy.

In total, 287,973 COVID-19 patients have been detected in the island.

At present, 21,318 persons are under medical care and 1,087 persons suspected of having COVID-19 are under observation.

The country’s COVID-19 recoveries yesterday rose to 262,828 with hospitals discharging 980 persons who recovered from COVID-19.


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