Professor Indika Karunathilake, President, Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) in an open letter to It’s members said the country cannot afford to be complacent about its COVID - 19 situation and that it would be a fatal pitfall to believe that Sri Lanka is safe due to its hot weather, a myth already dispelled by the WHO.
“ If we are to learn by the Korean example where one mass gathering triggered an epidemic, one mistake is enough. We can only hope Sri Lanka was not too late in implementing strict quarantine regulations,” Professor Karunathilake said in the letter.
He said less than three months have passed since COVID-19 came into international notice and situation is very volatile at present.
“The global case fatality rate appears to be 3-4%. The virus has now spread to every continent (except Antarctica) and has caused over 16000 deaths. More and more cases are detected and confirmed in Sri Lanka.”
The SLMC President said that considering what is happening in the US, UK, Australia and many other countries, Sri Lanka’s response so far is commendable.
“Sri Lanka has been able to keep the situation under control mainly due to the strength of our public health system, the efforts of the government, Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Epidemiology Unit and Health Promotion Bureau have been working tirelessly. Armed forces have played a major role in providing quarantine facilities.”
He said the SLMC, as the apex medical professional body of the country, is already working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) on many fronts, mainly enhancing awareness of healthcare professionals and the general
“ The strength of the Sri Lankan health system is in disease prevention. However, we have limited resources in the curative sector and highly inadequate intensive care facilities to optimally mange the critically ill during an epidemic. We must capitalise on the unique forte of our health system and focus even strongly on preventive measures such as sanitation, health education, disease monitoring, and quarantine measures, as well as isolation of proven or suspected cases. “
He added that the situation calls for return to the basics.
“The Sri Lankan health system has long experience in implementing these basic preventive approaches. Coupled with stringent preventive strategies and strict enforcement of regulations, Sri Lanka can contain the spread of this epidemic.Everyone has a responsibility during this national crisis. It is a time for vigilance, social responsibility, “ he added.