Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr. Hemantha Herath says it is not the Health Ministry’s duty to continue to maintain the standards of the laboratory set up at the Bandaranaike International Airport to deliver PCR test results within three hours.
Speaking at a media briefing in Colombo today, Dr. Hemantha Herath said it is the responsibility of health units that maintain the laboratories.
Dr. Herath noted that the Airport and Aviation Services (Private) Limited had signed agreements with private laboratories to conduct PCR tests at the BIA.
He commented that the laboratory division of the Health Ministry will only be assisting to maintain the required standards for testing as accepted internationally.
However, Dr. Hemantha Herath noted that individuals who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus do not require a PCR test at the airport according to the latest circular issued by the Ministry.
Meanwhile, media also questioned as to who will be held responsible, if another wave of coronavirus emerges within Sri Lanka due to tourists roaming freely around the country without being subject to a PCR test.
In response Dr. Hemantha Herath stressed that the government and health sector officials have come together to formulate the guidelines for foreign arrivals in order to consolidate the country’s economy amid the pandemic.
He said that the Ministry will amend the guidelines based on the feedback received when they are implemented.
Dr. Hemantha Herath also denied claims by the media that COVID-19 case numbers have reduced significantly due to a similar reduction in daily testing.
He pointed out that 500,000 PCR tests and 500,000 Rapid Antigen tests were conducted during the month of August alone.
Dr. Herath noted that the Health Ministry has issued guidelines to laboratory workers on obtaining results of PCR tests.
Primarily, the Deputy Director General of Health Services said they are more focused on conducting Rapid Antigen tests to identify coronavirus positive individuals.