SLMA raise concern over lifting countrywide lockdown. Requests President to extend the travel restrictions until June 28

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Sri Lanka Medical Association SLMA
Sri Lanka Medical Association SLMA

Sri Lanka Medical Association writes to President over lifting countrywide lockdown / travel restrictions from June 21. SLMA requests from President to extend the lockdown until, at least, 28th June.

SLMA raises grave concern and disappointment that the lockdown will be lifted from 21st. The country is still experiencing more than 2000 new cases and around 50 deaths every day, To complicate this situation further, there is also evidence of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus being prevalent in the community. This variant is fifty per cent more transmissible than the currently dominant variant, We foresee that a release of the current lockdown even for a few days will lead to the uncontrolled free movement of people and would thereby lead to an alarming increase in transmission, with rapid spread of the new variant, The will thereby escalate to an unprecedented level, causing increasing numbers of cases and unacceptable mortality, on a scale that could completely overwhelm the health system.

Sri Lanka Medical Association SLMA full letter – We greatly appreciate the decision, which the Government took to declare a countrywide lockdown from 21st May 2021 onwards to curb the rapidly worsening COVID 19 epidemic at the time. Despite lockdown being somewhat imperfect, with some sectors of the population continuing to be mobile and working, we believe that this intervention prevented a much larger number of deaths and averted significant suffering of the people in the country. It also prevented the health system, which was running at full capacity at the time, from collapsing.

Given the state of the epidemic, we the Sri Lanka Medical Association in our letter of 11th June requested that the lockdown be extended until, at least, 28th June, We note, however, with grave concern and disappointment that the lockdown will be lifted from 21st to 23rd re-imposed from 23rd to 25th June 2021. The basis for this is not all that clear to us. The country is still experiencing more than 2000 new cases and around 50 deaths every day, To complicate this situation further, there is also evidence of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus being prevalent in the community. This variant is fifty per cent more transmissible than the currently dominant variant, We foresee that a release of the current lockdown even for a few days will lead to the uncontrolled free movement of people and would thereby lead to an alarming increase in transmission, with rapid spread of the new variant, The will thereby escalate to an unprecedented level, causing increasing numbers of cases and unacceptable mortality, on a scale that could completely overwhelm the health system.

There is even now, a considerable variation in the number of new cases, and the burden on the healthcare facilities between districts. When it is deemed appropriate to ease the lockdown, it will have to be done in a carefully phased manner on a district-basis, grounded on reliable real-time data at district level, rather than in the country as a whole. The SLMA & SLMA Inter-Collegiate Committee (SMIC) are in the process of developing an “exit strategy” that will be handed over to the Government of Sri Lanka during the course of this week In it we recommend establishing district level Committees of Community Physicians to analyse good quality real-time data and decide on the level of mobility restriction within the district on the basis of several relevant criteria that we have identified. District level decisions will need guidance from and overall agreement of the Ministry of Health.

It is with deep concern that we urge Your Excellency to continue with the current lockdown measures uninterrupted, at this crucial moment of time. Lifting the lockdown even for a few days is likely to take us back to the major epidemic situation which prevailed in April this year. The gains that have been made during the lockdown of the last three weeks will then be sacrificed, and it will take all that much longer and a tremendous effort on the part of all stakeholders, to return us even to this level ofcontrol again.We remain committed to assisting you and the government in all your endeavours to safeguard the health of the nation.

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