Govt spends Rs. 60m a day on PCR tests – DG Health Services | Sunday Observer

Govt spends Rs. 60m a day on PCR tests – DG Health Services

21 February, 2021
The new PCR machines
The new PCR machines

An increase in the number of Covid-infected people was reported from many places in the country in December, because many people in the country did not heed or work in accordance with health guidelines, Director General of Health Services, Dr. Asela Gunawardena said.

Dr. Gunawardena was speaking at the installation of two PCR machines and the opening of a laboratory, built at a cost of nearly Rs. 2 million at the National Institute of Health Sciences, in Kalutara.

The Kalutara Journalists’ Co-operative Society donated Rs. 52 lakhs from its Suwa Sarana Fund and Managing Director of Wasana Bake House, Horana, Dayananda Bombuwela donated Rs. 160 lakhs for the two PCR machines and the laboratory.

“People do not care much about the health guidelines we give, as responsible health authorities. The Government has increased the number of PCR tests done at provincial level and the Government usually performs around 15,000 and 20,000 PCR tests daily which costs nearly Rs. 60 million. People should understand that the Health Department spends such a large amount of money for the benefit of the people So why can’t they follow the simple and easy health guidelines such as wearing a face mask, keeping social distancing and limiting or decreasing unnecessary travelling?,” he said.

“I never went anywhere outside from March last year up to date, because I cannot take the risk of getting infected. The private sector too carries out around 4,000-5,000 PCR tests, and each one costs nearly Rs.7,000. But the Health Dept carries out all these tests free. We provide the public with free healthcare service but many people do not understand its value, Dr Gunawardena said.

“Many people question us as to why we do not lockdown the country, which we once did, but at the same time, we received requests from many many people not to lock down because, they will find it extremely difficult to earn their daily bread under a lockdown, so citizens should thoroughly keep that in mind.

It is with much difficulty and many challenges, that the government keeps the country open, without a lockdown, for the people to carry out their usual activities. So why can’t they follow the easy health rules?

“I, as the responsible officer in the Health Dept, will have to again turn the country backwards, if the citizens are not going to strictly adhere to the health guidelines, resulting in strict limitations on travelling, gathering and may be curfews which people will have to tolerate,” the Director General warned.

Don’t attend wedding parties and funeral houses, where people from various places gather. It is extremely risky and dangerous, you should tell your loved ones and other relatives, Dr. Gunawardene said.

“If one person is tested positive, a big cluster of infected people could be generated, that’s why we warn the public not to attend social events, such as parties, weddings, funerals or meetings.

We have limited the number of participants at a wedding, which is the one and only occasion in one’s life, to only fifty, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. We kept the country open, thinking and hoping that citizens would follow the health department guidelines and rules, but it was unfortunately unsuccessful resulting in the pandemic spreading throughout the country,” he said.

Dr. Gunawardena said that another new British variant of the virus has invaded 83 countries including India, our neighbouring country and that it has a faster spreading speed, much more serious than the Covid-19 virus.

Jayawardena University Medical Faculty Head Prof. Aloka Pathirana, Kalutara Regional Health Services DG Dr. Udaya Kumara, NIHS and Kalutara General Hospital Director Dr. Thamara Kalubowila, PHIs, and Health Dept Heads were present.