Expert Group calls for strict travel restrictions, warns of surge in deaths & cases

Expert Group calls for strict travel restrictions, warns of surge in deaths & cases

Expert Group calls for strict travel restrictions, warns of surge in deaths & cases

Written by Zulfick Farzan

13 Aug, 2021 | 11:54 am

COLOMBO (News 1st); The 5th Independent Expert Group Meeting convened by WHO Sri Lanka noted with great concern the current surge in COVID-19, nearly overwhelming the capacity of the health systems.

The report noted that Sri Lanka is showing a rapid increase in daily reported number of cases and deaths adding that bed occupancy rates at all levels of care facilities (over 85%) and ICU’s (over 90%) have increased progressively and is now in full capacity.

According to the report by the expert group, at current levels of mobility restrictions, the number of cases would increase up to mid-September at 6000 cases/ day and deaths up to early October coming to a peak of around 220 deaths/day.

It added that ICU admission will peak around 275 by early October with cumulative deaths around 30,000 by Jan 2022.

The experts noted that at increased levels of stringency (similar to May-June 2021) for 4 weeks, the country will have fewer numbers of cases of around 1000 /day, deaths less than 25 /day, and ICU care to less than 25 /day (by October 2021) and avert 18,000 deaths by Jan 2022.

The group of experts has made the following recommendations :

• Strictly enforce movement restrictions, including inter-district travel except for essential services. The effective implementation of these measures may require the enforcement of a curfew for a short period, in large geographic areas or nationally.

• Restrict /cancel all public events for 3 weeks.

• Provide care and protect the health workers and augment staffing in hospitals to minimize disruption of essential health services.

• Develop and implement an effective communication plan to engage the public and to update them on the control measures.

• Accurate reporting of both cases and deaths to get a better picture of the ground situation. May also use proxy indicators such as observed Test Positivity Rate (TPR), trends measured using weekly moving averages and time series analysis, mobility data, etc.

• Prioritize to vaccinate all those over 60 years old and those with co-morbidities, preferably with Pfizer, Moderna or Astra Zeneca because even a single dose of these vaccines provides some degree of protection until the second dose is given.

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