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Health experts have warned Sri Lanka of an impending COVID-19 Delta variant outbreak in the coming months if the public fails to take necessary precautions and if they are not fully vaccinated.

With the delta variant being commonly detected, the number of patients and more disturbingly, the exponential rise in the number of oxygen dependent patients, the capacity to accommodate them has virtually reached its tipping point, the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) said.

As the demand for oxygen increases, The AMS observed that it will only take a few days to exceed the supply which will increase deaths due to lack of oxygen or more importantly, due to the lack of oxygen delivery mechanism to the patient's bedside, adding that the crisis will be equally applicable to both public and private sectors.

Data indicate that Delta is 40-60% more transmissible than Alpha and almost twice as transmissible as the original Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2. Furthermore, significantly more viral particles have been found in the airways of patients infected with the Delta variant.

 

In this backdrop, further relaxation of Covid restrictions in our opinion will be adding "fuel to the fire". With such relaxations reaching the general public, who are already complacent in obeying guidelines, will invariably start behaving like "free birds" aggravating the crisis further.

 

The AMS noted that relaxation of restrictions should have commenced once the country has achieved vaccination targets along with a declining number of Covid-19 daily cases, about four to eight weeks from now.

"With declining economic performance indicators, we are quite aware of the urgency the government has in getting the economy back on track.

However, impatient and hurried decisions to open the country up will invariably delay any expected economic growth due to surging Covid-19 related mortality and morbidity.

As medical specialists, we strongly believe that economists and others have to be alive in the first place to develop the economy and no tourist will come to our country unless and until we are a reasonably safe place with regards to the current pandemic.

 

We are quite disappointed and saddened by the silence of professionals who act in advisory and advocacy capacity for lack of courage to inform the decision makers of the truth and realities of the ground situation.

 

Therefore, we are compelled to request the government to revisit their Covid-19 restriction protocols in the wake of surging numbers, especially with this deadly delta variant," the AMS added.