The first confirmed case of the COVID 19 virus was reported in Sri Lanka on the 27th January, with a 44 year-old Chinese woman from Hubei Province in China. She was admitted to the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH), Angoda and released from hospital after full recovery on 19th February. However COVID 19 patients rapidly increased within one week after the Italian and the Korean flight were allowed to enter to the country on 10th of March. In spite of the rapid increase in COVID 19 positive patients there was a government failure to lock down the country because of political reasons.
However, within this crisis situation of rapid increase in diagnosed patients, passengers of two flights from India and China were released into the country without quarantine procedures. With the rapid increasing of diagnosed COVID 19 patients the government decided to lock down the country by imposing curfew. When the curfew was lifted out after two days, people gathered to get their essentials making the towns overcrowded. Now the Sri Lankan government has taken many actions to control the situation in the country such as imposing curfew, locked down some areas, establishing a task force, distributing hampers of essential goods for low income families, and online system for drug distribution etc.
According to the current statistics, total number of diagnosed COVID 19 patients in Sri Lanka is 203, and seven deaths have been reported. Now the community spread being activated and according to the experts, expected number of infected patients in next few weeks is 20000 - 50000. In the hospitals all routine works have been altered and only emergency services are functioning. All the health Staff are fully involved to control the situation. One doctor and one nursing officer have infected and about 200 health workers are under quarantine procedures. The main problem which the nurses are facing all over the country is insufficient personal protective equipment and this makes them more vulnerable to catching infections especially when they come in contact with patients already infected and suspected with the novel coronavirus.
In spite of scarcity of resources Sri Lankan nurses are rendering a great service in the mission of COVID 19. Many nurses have volunteered to work in specialized hospitals established for COVID 19 patients. In addition to providing nursing care, nurses are contributing to prepare essential equipment and face masks. They are making protective garments with garbage bags also.
As the Government Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA) we are trying our level best to provide facilities and extending fullest cooperation to uplift our nurses’ morale. The president of GNOA Mr. Saman Rathnapriya and executive members visited COVID 19 units in hospitals, donated equipment such as washing machines, face masks, protective equipment, and hampers of essential goods for health workers who are giving their service in the hospitals.