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Gen. Shavendra Silva calls for strict regulatory mechanisms at private hospitals

The head of the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO), General Shavendra Silva has requested private hospitals to look into implementing a common regulatory mechanism for conduct of antigen and PCR tests.

He noted that priority should be given to BOI approved garment industry employees, those proceeding overseas, workforce in respective hospitals and those set to undergo surgeries in order to streamline and reinforce 100% credibility of such procedures to be in line with guidelines issued by the Director General of Health Services.

This was discussed during a meeting on Wednesday (20) between the Army Commander, the Director General of Health Services Dr Asela Gunawardena and representatives of private sector top management, the Army said in a statemnt.

"It is obligatory for the private sector to detain those coming for antigen and PCR tests for some time in a waiting area before their results are reported but this appears not to be the case. Complaints have been received that although such cases are confirmed positive, proper laid down procedures have not been followed. Health authorities are not informed of such positive cases and private hospitals tend to release them haphazardly," Gen Silva noted.

"It has also been brought to notice that testing methodology has been twisted and attempts are made by certain private sector hospitals to carry out antigen and PCR tests also at regional testing places and mini laboratories which have not received any authorization from the Ministry. This practice has posed a setback to our fight against its transmission since such positive ones hide in various places infecting others without confining to hospitals," he added.

He further said that many had complained about private hospitals charging exorbitant sums for antigen and PCR tests.

"This should not be the case. Only 30 technically-equipped such laboratories are authorized by the Health Department to carry out such tests in accordance with approved provisions and guidelines because concerns have been expressed as regards the reliability and accuracy of such tests by certain affected parties since they sometimes provide contradictory results. Only yesterday alone, 18,000 PCR tests were performed although the private sector charges, i.e Rs 6750 for BOI company employees remain unchanged. Only authorized standard charges should be levied for such tests. It is much better if those existing price ranges can be further reduced for the benefit of the masses," he said.

Dr Asela Gunawardena appealed to those top management to strictly adhere to guidelines and regulations to this effect and ensure credibility of the testing methodology at their highest levels without resorting to wrong practices.

Top level officials of the Ministry of Health, Health Department, State Sector Hospitals, Task Force members, and officials of several other agencies were present during the meeting. A group of 10-12 laboratory authorities/private sector hospital administrators attended the meeting, held at the NOCPCO at Rajagiriya.

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