Sri Lanka has tightened access to private Coronavirus tests as home treatment of positive Covid-19 patients began in the Kaluthara district as hospitals was rapidly filling up.
The Director-General of Health has ordered hospitals to only carry out tests on ‘indication’ on a doctor’s order and banned walk in tests.
“The tests should be carried out only when it is indicated as per the recommendations of the Consultant or the Medical Officer in charge of the triage counter” a directive to private labs said.
“No walk-in or drive through PCR or Rapid antigen testing permitted.
“If you do not abide by the guidelines, I will have to cancel the authorization of your laboratory to perform Covid-19 PCR testing and Rapid Antigen Testing.”
Testing of those going abroad and factories will still be permitted.
It was the responsibility of the lab and hospital concerned to make sure that positive patients were isolated and directed to a treatment.
At the beginning of the crisis, Sri Lanka’s drug regulator raided a private hospital that had imported test kits.
Other reports said a daily limit has been placed on the volume of tests that private labs can do.
The directive came as authorities said they were starting home treatment of patients in the Kaluthara district.
The head of the Sri Lanka’a anti-Covid-19 task force, General Shavendra Silva told Sri Lanka’s privately run Derana television that a pilot program was started in Kaluthara district.
People would be kept home if they had enough room and facilities such as a separate toilet and they were asymptomatic.
“If the program is successful it will be extended to Colombo and Kaluthara,” he said.
Sri Lanka has been identifying over 2,500 patients a day putting severe pressure on hospitals, despite the military and others building extra capacity.
The country is under a lockdown from May 21.
Guidelines to perform COVID-19 RT PCR and Rapid Antigen testing in private Laboratories/ Institutions
Further to my even-numbered letter dated 20.05.2021, you are hereby instructed to follow this guideline with regard to RT PCR/ Rapid Antigen (RAT) Testing in your hospital/ Laboratory.
1. The tests should be carried out only when it is indicated as per the recommendations of the Consultant or the Medical Officer in charge of the triage counter.
2. After taking the samples, the patients should be advised to isolated inside the institution/home until the report is issued, under the strict supervision by the respective hospital or the laboratory.
3. If a patient is found to be a COVID-19 positive it is your responsibility to inform the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health, the Medical Officer of Health in the respective areas and the patients.
4. You have to arrange the positive patients to be accommodated in an Authorized COVID-19 Treatment Centers as per the recommendation of the responsible physician.
5. No walk-in or drive through PCR or Rapid antigen testing permitted.
If you do not abide by the guidelines, I will have to cancel the authorization of your laboratory to perform Covid-19 PCR testing and Rapid Antigen Testing.
This guideline is not applicable for those who are requested to do PCR testing for the purpose of foreign travel.
Furthermore, COVID-19 testing that is carried out in workplaces is excluded from this guideline and such testing should be continued to be carried out as per the “Screening and Laboratory testing strategy for COVI-19 for employees in workplaces” issued by the Ministry of Health.
Dr. Asela Gunawardene
Director General of Health Services.