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With hospitals likely to be overrun, Sri Lanka shifts focus to COVID-19 home treatment

With dedicated hospitals and treatment centres almost full to capacity, Sri Lanka’s ministry of health has said select COVID-19 patients will be treated at home under the supervision of divisional medical officers of the ministry.

Patients – whether symptomatic or asymptomatic – will be selected for home treatment until they are referred to a hospital based on a number of factors, including their risk factors, their ability to stay at home, and the situation in the surrounding area, the ministry said Monday (28).

A dedicated hotline, 1390, has also been opened for inquiries regarding home treatment.

The goal, according to the ministry, is to better manage COVID hospitals and ‘intermediate treatment centres’ while allowing medical staff to provide better care to patients suffering severe disease.

Sri Lanka’s hospitals and treatment centres dedicated to COVID-19 patients were running overcapacity in recent weeks as daily cases were surging past 2,500.

The situation has now somewhat returned to normal, though capacity is almost full, according to official data.

Courtesy National Operations Centre for the Prevention of COVID-19 (NOCPOC)

The health ministry said that, with the home treatment programme, it plans to reduce deaths and prioritise hospitalisation of patients with symptoms, patients at high risk of various complications over 60 years of age and at high risk of hospitalisation.

“We are hoping to come to a level where we don’t have to wear a mask when we go out,” Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi told reporters June 28.

“We must prepare for a situation where we exceed the capacity of our hospitals. It is our duty to take care of every patient even in a such a situation,” she added, indicating a possible overrun of the country’s healthcare system.

Patients who choose to stay at home will be monitored daily by a team of physicians, including specialist physicians, under internationally recognised monitoring methods, the ministry further said in its statement.

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) will coordinate the programme directly with the health ministry, with contributions from over 400 physicians, including family medicine professors, professors of science, physiotherapists, pediatricians, gynecologists and other specialists in various fields, the ministry said.


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