Govt. further expands COVID-19 treatment facilities

Friday, 20 March 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

 Director General Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe 


  • Welikanda Hospital for COVID-19 patients operational; Army to finish furnishing Mulleriyawa Hospital today
  • Govt. allocates Rs. 500 m for COVID-19 work, essential medical equipment to be purchased  
  • IDH adds 4 more ICU beds
  • Doctors, scientists, health authorities, Army and Air Force team up to manufacture protective gear locally
  • Police, consumer protection authorities to raid traders who hoard gloves, masks, other protective wear

The Government yesterday further expanded treatment facilities for new novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, whose number rose to 59 from 50 on Wednesday.

The Welikanda hospital was operationalised following refurbishment, and equipped by the Army and health authorities in 48 hours. The Mulleriyawa hospital is expected to be fully equipped for the task by the end of the day. 

Director General Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe told the daily media briefing at the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) that the two new treatment centres were prepared to meet any contingency that may occur. 

Welikanda Hospital is in close proximity to two of the large quarantine centres and patients tested positive from those centres will be admitted to the Welikanda treatment facility from now on.    

“We have begun to move COVID-19 patients to Welikanda Hospital which was equipped to treat them,” Dr. Jasinghe said at the briefing.

Also in attendance at the briefing were Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Acting CDS and Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavindra Silva and Information Department Director General DIG Ajith Rohana. 

Minister Wanniarachchi said that the Government had allocated Rs. 500 million to aid the national program to counter COVID-19. “The Cabinet decided to use Rs. 500 million for the counter COVID-19 program,” she said in response to a question. 

Wanniarachchi urged the public to follow the set regulations, pointing out that each citizen had a responsibility to themselves and the country in this time of crisis. She also cautioned the public not to follow ad-hoc remedies circulated on social media and to only follow the guidelines and regulations issued by the Health Ministry. 

Responding to a question on ICU (intensive care) bed capacity at the IDH, Dr. Jasinghe said that the number of ICU beds there had been increased from six to 10. 

According to him, Sri Lanka has close to 500 ICU beds and the health authorities are confident that it is adequate to deal with the COVID-19 numbers at present. However, more will be obtained if the need arises, he added. 

He stated that the frontline hospitals were in need of more Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) and that the authorities were managing with stocks in hand. “More has been ordered, however international manufacture has reduced,” 

he said.   

“From tomorrow the Ministry of Health, with the assistance of specialist doctors, scientists, the Air Force and Army, will begin to manufacture personal protective suits locally,” Dr. Jasinghe told the media. 

A group of Sri Lankan doctors and scientists had come up with a way to manufacture them with the assistance of the Air Force and Army after the need for large quantities of PPE was felt, he explained.

According to DIG Rohana, 8,507 individuals who returned to the island between 1 and 9 March have registered with their local Police stations and health officials. They are in voluntary self-quarantine and will be monitored by Police and PHIs in their respective areas. 

“We have received complaints that some traders and pharmacists are hoarding gloves and masks and not selling them to the public. This is illegal. The Police with local PHIs will begin to raid such vendors tomorrow and we will charge them under the consumer protection laws,” he added.