COVID crisis is at a critical juncture

Sri Lanka’s Covid crisis is at a critical juncture the Independent Technical Expert Group (ITEG) said. Nearly 90 percent of the samples sequenced have shown that the Delta variant which is highly transmissible with a shorter incubation period, has spread beyond the western province to other provinces. The ITEG which has been meeting regularly to assess the country’s Covid situation is calling for an extension of the stringency measures and their strict enforcement to ensure public compliance. The ITEG is also pushing for accelerated vaccinations and a social support system for vulnerable populations.

During their latest meeting on 26 August the ITEG observed that the number of people dying from Covid is increasing faster than projected and that clinicians working in hospitals have noted a rise in the severely ill.

The ITEG also made observations about how the country’s economy will be affected by an extension of the stringency measures. According to a projection by Imperial College, London, the economic impact in monetary terms between a 10- day, four week and six week lockdown will vary between $1.12 bn, $1.67 bn and $2.22 bn.

6th Independent Technical Expert Group Meeting 26 August 2021. COVID-19 situation and way forward

COVID-19 Situation:
• As of 26 August 2021, the total number of deaths is 7948, 198 of which was reported in the last 24 hours and increasing faster than projected.
• Yesterday there were, 4,472 cases reported with increase in the severely ill is noted by
clinicians working in hospitals.
• Close to 90% of the samples sequenced show the Delta variant and has now spread to other
provinces other than Western province – it is highly transmissible with shorter incubation period.
• Hospitals are at full capacity with increasing number of health workers getting infected. Critical supplies low in stock, including oxygen.
• Virus spreading within homes.
Urgent response needed:
• Enforcement of stringent measures with compliance of the public to reinforce accelerated
• Social support system for vulnerable population.
• Maintaining stringency to reduce transmission, caseload and deaths will enable quicker economic recovery.

List of Experts and Participants – 26 August 2021
Name Designation/Organization
1. Dr Palitha Abeykoon
WHO Consultant and WHO Director-General’s Special Envoy For COVID-19
Preparedness and Response for SEAR
2. Dr Nihal Abeysinghe Consultant in Community Medicine and Former Chief Epidemiologist in Sri Lanka and President of the College of Community Physicians in Sri Lanka
3. Dr Vinya Ariyaratne Public Health Specialist, President- Sarvodaya (CSO)
4. Prof Asita de Silva Senior Professor of Pharmacology, University of Kelaniya and President, Sri
Lanka Association of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics
5. Dr Rajiva de Silva Consultant Immunologist and Head of the Department of Immunology-MRI
6. Dr LakKumar Fernando Clinical Head, Centre for Clinical Management of Dengue & Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever; Consultant Pediatrician; President, Association of Medical Specialists
7. Dr Padma Gunaratne Consultant Neuro Physician and President, Sri Lanka Medical Association
8. Prof Saroj Jayasinghe Consultant Physician and Prof Emeritus of Medicine, University of Colombo
9. Prof Indika Karunathilake Prof. in Medical Education, Department of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine and Former President – SLMA
10. Prof Neelika Malavige Professor and Head, Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine, Sri Jayewardenepura University
11. Prof. Kamini Mendis Professor Emeritus, University of Colombo; Public Health Expert and former WHO Malaria expert
12. Prof Malik Peiris Chair/Professor – School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Medicine, Hong Kong
13. Prof Manuj Weerasinghe Prof in Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Univ of Colombo
14. Dr Ananda Wijewickrama Consultant Physician, National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Past President of the College of Physicians
15. Dr Lalini Rajapaksa Former Professor of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo.
16. Prof. Athula Sumathipala Professor of Psychiatry, Keele University, UK.; Emeritus Professor of Global Mental Health, Kings College London, and Chair, NIFS WHO
1. Dr Alaka Singh (Chair) WHO Representative to Sri Lanka
2. Dr Paba Palihawadana WHO Indonesia Medical Officer
3. Dr Olivia Nieveras Public Health Administrator, WHO Sri Lanka
4. Dr Sapumal Dhanapala WHO Sri Lanka
5. Dr Padmal de Silva WHO Maldives
6. Dr Nalika Gunawardena WHO Sri Lanka
7. Dr Virginie Mallawaarachchi WHO Sri Lanka
8. Mr T Suveendran WHO Sri Lanka
9. Dr Preshila Samaraweera WHO Sri Lanka
10. Dr Mizaya Cader WHO Sri Lanka
11. Ms Sadhani Rajapakse WHO Sri Lanka
12. Dr Priyanga Senanayake WHO Sri Lanka
13. Dr Roshan Sampath WHO Sri Lanka
14. Dr Chatura Wijesundara WHO Sri Lanka
15. Dr Anjalee De Silva WHO Sri Lanka
16. Mr Dave Blackman UN Resident Coordinator Office
17. Ms. Lahiri Jayasinghe UN Resident Coordinator Office

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