08th September 2020 16:55:50 Hours
A fully-equipped and automated Infectious Disease Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory facility with a capacity for conduct of about 300 COVID-19 (PCR) tests for Sri Lanka Army personnel and their families became operational from today (8) onwards at the Colombo Army Hospital, providing a boost to the governmental national efforts for conduct of PCR tests and other ones for infectious diseases. Currently, 20 designated laboratories across the country under the close supervision of consultant virologists and microbiologists carry out those diagnostic PCR investigations against COVID-19.
None other than the Head of the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO), Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva as the Chief Guest at the invitation of Brigadier Chrishantha Fernando, officiating Director General of Army Health Services this morning (8) inaugurated the new facility in the main Hospital building, sponsored jointly by Sampath Bank PLC, WSO2 Lanka (Pvt) Ltd and Ceylon Biscuits Limited at a cost of Rs 30 million. Associated with the inaugural unveiling of the plaque in the converted laboratory premises was its brainchild, Major General Sanjeewa Munasinghe, former Director General of Army Health Services, now the Secretary to Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Practices and representatives of main sponsors.
At the beginning, the new infectious disease molecular diagnostic laboratory facility will have the capacity for about 300 COVID-19 PCR assays and with incorporation of more trained staff, it plans very soon to increase its testing capacity up to 600 to cater to the national requirement as well. The Colombo Army Hospital maintains that strategic approach in preventing wide community spread of this infection should inevitably include the rapid case identification by early diagnosis of acute infection in both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients and isolation of all cases, comprehensive contact tracing and quarantining of exposed contacts and effective public health and infection prevention control measures to break chains of transmission.
Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva speaking to Media after the brief inauguration pointed out that continuation of a very effective laboratory test strategy in Sri Lanka places a pivotal role in mitigation not only of COVID – 19 epidemic in our country too but also other infectious diseases and this new facility would therefore be a step in the right direction for strengthening national efforts. "For the first time in the Army history, we are fortunate to have been able to get down this most modern facility which could diagnose not only COVID-19 but also other infectious diseases as well. The automated nature would help accelerate such diagnostic tests in a short spell and this would be a tremendous stimulant to our national efforts, spearheaded by HE the President and Hon Prime Minister, together with other stakeholders."
"Although we do not find any more positive cases from society, it is vital that all of us adhere to recommended health practices since a minor lapse would cause an outbreak as we experienced in the past. He also attributed the establishment of this COVID-19 laboratory to the efforts of Major General Sanjeewa Munasinghe who is the brainchild behind the initiation of the project when he was the Director General of Health Services in the Colombo Army Hospital. When you think of our neighbouring India where over 90,000 cases were reported a day, we feel our people behaved with discipline and dedication supporting our efforts in the control of transmission, a practice that should be continued," he added. Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva also praised the sponsors of the laboratory for their national concern at a time the whole world is affected with this pandemic.
Major General Jagath Gunawardene, Chief of Staff, Major General Rasika Fernando, Deputy Chief of Staff and Brigadier Chrishantha Fernando, officiating Director General of Army Health Services, together with several Principal Staff Officers welcomed the day's Chief Guest on arrival at the premises. During his stay, the Army Chief also closely watched laboratory operations and a few other facilities in the hospital complex.