The UNP  today reiterated  its call to the Minister of Health to increase the country’s current capability of testing for COVID-19  and also provide members of essential services and delivery services with the necessary protective equipment to assist them in carrying out their duties effectively and safely.

“The  UNP has been stressing the need of increased PCR testing and increased Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for members of our essential services, e.g. the doctors, nurses, members of the armed forces and delivery services. At the Party Leader’s meeting on the 5  April 2020, United National Party leader  Ranil Wickremesinghe, urged the government to focus on increasing the number of PCR tests carried out per day as well as increasing the stock of PPEs and other necessary medical equipment. This request has also been made continually by members of the medical fraternity including the GMOA,” the UNP said in  a news release.

The Party accused the Minister of Health of continually disregarding these pleas from both the public and the medical professionals.

“On the 18 April 2020, Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Affairs, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, told the people of Sri Lanka that the COVID-19 outbreak in the country had been contained and the nationwide curfew could be lifted. In the 10 days since the Minister made this announcement, the number of confirmed cases has risen by 334. Over 180 members of the armed services have been reported as having contracted the COVID-19 virus, of which 68 of them had returned home. This failure to protect members of our essential services, who are battling the virus on the front-lines, is a measurement of the Health Minister’s failure to understand the reality of the situation,” the UNP said.

“Only on the 25 April 2020 did the Health Ministry enable Private Hospitals to assist in carrying out the necessary testing. The UNP once again calls on the Minister of Health to increase the country’s current capability of testing to 3,000 PCR tests per day.”

The UNP said the  recent success in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus in countries such as South Korea, New Zealand and Germany has been through the wide-spread testing in the country. “In South Korea, between 12,000 and 20,000 tests are carried out per day, in comparison the Health Minister has been able to equip Sri Lanka with the ability to carry out only 1,000 tests per day.”

The UNP said the government’s swift action in locking-down the country will prove to have been ineffective unless more testing is done and those infected with the virus are identified and isolated from the rest of the community.” The UNP asks the government to also provide members of our essential services and delivery services with the necessary protection equipment to assist them in carrying out their duties effectively and safely. These individuals are risking their lives to ensure we stay home, the government has the responsibility to ensure their lives are also protected.”