‘Use Colombo Lotus Tower to treat COVID-19 patients’

Rajitha Senaratne, former Health Minister.

Sri Lanka’s unutilised USD 104 million Lotus Tower must be made to accommodate high-dependency units (HDUs) to treat the country’s rapidly increasing COVID-19 patients, former Health Minister, Rajitha Senaratne said.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, May 4, Mr. Senaratne requested the government to not add beds for COVID-19 treatment to regular hospitals that provide tertiary care as there will be a risk of infection in those hospitals.

The seven-story Millennium Ward Complex at the Colombo South Teaching Hospital in Kalubowila, the Helmut Kohl Maternity Hospital, a maternity teaching hospital in Galle and the Polonnaruwa Renal Treatment Hospital, which has 250 beds can also be used for COVID-19 treatment, he said.

Referring a report from Prof. Suneth Agampodi, who is Founding Professor and Department Chair (Community Medicine) Faculty of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, Mr. Senaratne said as a percentage of the population, Sri Lanka’s increasing daily cases are higher than those reported in India.

“The effective reproduction rate of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka is larger than in India. Given the difference in the population sizes and health infrastructure which is already on the verge of collapse, it will be a matter of time if we continue to ignore,” the opposition MP said quoting the report.

Mr. Senaratne further said that with the emergence of the so called third wave, Sri Lanka has seen an increase in COVID-19 patients among the youth and children.

“What’s unique about the new variant is that it is mostly asymptomatic but all of a sudden you will experience breathing difficulties. The basic and emergency treatment for this is oxygen. For this, there should be ICU beds with oxygen supply, or HDUs,” he said.

The China-funded Lotus tower was built with an 85 per cent loan from the Exim Bank of China. Since it was declared open in September 2019 by former President Maithripala Sirisena, the tower has been unused and closed to the general public.