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You test positive for COVID-19. What Now?

You test positive for COVID-19. What now?

Updated August 12th, 2021.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Rashmira Balasuriya BSc (Hons) MBBS PGCert (MedEd)

covid positive

With the number of COVID-19 cases rising across the country, it is more likely than ever that we have either interacted with or know of a person who has been tested positive for COVID-19. And if we’re feeling a little temperature or a sore throat, our next thought tends to be “Should I take a PCR test?”. With the amount of ambiguity and daily change of regulations, we, at oDoc, want to keep you informed and updated with the latest news regarding COVID-19 processes in Sri Lanka.

What should you do after finding out you’ve been tested positive for COVID-19?

Contacting your local PHI

You can find out who your local PHI is from this website (On the navigation bar at the top, click ‘Find PHI’ and fill in your area details) The lab or hospital where you were tested for COVID-19 will also inform your local PHI and Ministry of Health.

Things you should keep in mind for your conversation with the PHI officer:

  • COVID-19 symptoms
  • How long you’ve been having these symptoms
  • Any known medical illnesses (i.e. asthma, diabetes, etc)
  • Any medications taken for known illnesses or after becoming COVID positive
  • Any allergies
  • Any previous surgeries
  • If you’re a smoker or not
  • People you have been in contact with over the last few days
  • Have an emergency contact number of a family member/friend
pcr test

Home Isolation 

To reduce the burden on hospitals and COVID-19 care centers, the Ministry of Health has introduced the option of low risk COVID-19 patients isolating in their homes. Here are a few things to keep in mind when quarantining at home:

  • REST.
  • Remain in a separated well-ventilated room.
  • Avoid contact with others as much as possible. Identify one family member who is low risk to be in contact with you. Wear a surgical mask and wash hands before coming into contact with anyone else.
  • Do not share washrooms if possible. If sharing, you should disinfect the washroom after each use.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Do not routinely take antibiotics or steroid medication. Only take medication prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner.
  • Have warm fluids frequently such as tea, kothamalli, jeewani
  • Steam inhalation – only for symptomatic relief and always ensure safety
  • Keep track of any new or worsening symptoms – If possible, keep a check on your basic vitals – temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate (count the number of breaths per minute), blood pressure and oxygen saturation.
  • You should use separate cutlery, plates, dishes and bedding from the rest of the household members.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces often.
  • Keep your bed linen and clothes in a laundry bag separate from others.
  • All household members should remain at home and avoid any contact with people who don’t live in the same household.
  • No visitors should be allowed during the home isolation period.
  • Call 1990 if you have any difficulty breathing, chest pain or loss of speech/mobility.
  • Keep emergency contact numbers close by.

How will you be accessed during home isolation?

The area MOH will be responsible for triaging COVID positive individuals who need home-based care and who need hospitalized care.  Taking care of your mental health during this period of isolation is also important and can help in making you feel better, so consider speaking to a mental health professional during this time as well.

During your home isolation period, you can purchase Home Care with oDoc. You will need to inform your local PHI if you choose to use this service.Here’s what you have access to:

  • A dedicated doctor assigned to you to virtually monitor your symptoms everyday 
  • A Pulse Oximeter and Blood Pressure Meter (both NMRA approved) to be sent to your home
  • A Wellness Package of masks, gloves, sanitizer, and a box of Panadol to be sent to your home.

Click here to find out more about Home Care with oDoc.

A minimum of 14 days is required for the home isolation period. The Ministry of Health and your doctor will make the decision on when you should stop the home isolation period. This will depend on your symptoms and how many days have passed since the onset of symptoms. If the MoH decides you can remove yourself from isolation, it is still recommended that you quarantine at home for a further 14 days.

Government/Private Care Centers

If the PHI/MoH decides that you need to be treated at a hospital or care center, there are options to stay in a government care center for free or a private care center for a fee. If you choose to quarantine at a private care center, you can find all the information on space availability, rates and medical support here.

You may have to remain at home before a bed becomes available at a COVID care center. If you need to remain at home for a few days, please follow the above guidelines. Your local PHI will transfer you to an Intermediate COVID care center when a bed becomes available to you.

How do you know when to seek immediate medical attention?

  • Progressive worsening of persistent symptoms
  • Difficulty in breathing at rest or after mild exertion
  • Oxygen levels at rest is below 96% or less than 94% after mild exertion (check with Pulse Oximeter)

If any of the above occurs, please go to the hospital immediately or call 1990 for an ambulance.

How long after you’ve recovered from COVID-19 can you take the vaccine?

If you’ve had a mild/moderate version of COVID-19, you can take the vaccine 2 weeks after recovery. If you’ve had a severe form of the disease AND received monoclonal antibody/plasma therapy as part of your treatment, you will have to wait at least 1 month before vaccination.

We will continue to update this article if and when regulations change so keep checking this space for any COVID-19 related news in Sri Lanka.

Watch our short video explaining everything you need to know about the highly contagious and transmissible Delta Variant here.

If you would like to read more about the SinoPharm and Sputnik vaccines, read more here. 

If you or a loved one would like further advice on COVID-19 symptoms, consult with our on-demand GPs who are available 24/7.  You can download oDoc here.



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Let’s meet the new vaccines on the block: Sinopharm & Sputnik

Let’s meet the new vaccines on the block: Sinopharm & Sputnik


With the COVID third wave in Sri Lanka arriving at the same time as the need for the AstraZeneca second jab, there has been some public dismay on the limited supply of Astrazeneca doses. The Serum Institute stopped exporting the vaccine from India after the pandemic tsunami hit its shores in late March. India is now the global epicentre of the pandemic and needs to vaccinate its own population.

What does that mean for countries like ours that were relying on Indian exports?

The Sri Lankan government has procured 15,000 Sputnik and 600,000 SinoPharm doses from Russia & China, respectively in the absence of Indian AstraZeneca supplies. Whilst we await trial data from Germany & Russia on the ability to mix and match vaccines, we take a closer look at these two new vaccines on the block. 

Starting with Russia’s Sputnik 🇷🇺

Since the release of its Phase 3 data in February 2021, Sputnik has been approved by over 60 countries for emergency use. It has not yet received authorisation by the WHO.

What is it? Similar to AstraZeneca, Sputnik is also a two-dose viral vector vaccine. It uses an inactivated virus (usually something like a chimp cold virus) to deliver the Sars-CoV-2 spike protein genetic information into the body to generate an immune response. These inactivated viruses are changed so they can’t replicate in the body. Unlike AstraZeneca, Sputnik uses two different vector viruses in its two doses.

Does it prevent sickness? The Gamelaya Institute conducted 33,000 person Phase III studies in Russia in September 2020. Preliminary study results showed the vaccine has 91.6% efficacy in preventing symptomatic sickness. As with most of the vaccines approved so far, Sputnik showed 100% efficacy to prevent severe disease.

What does that mean? After getting the second dose of the vaccine, if you get infected with COVID19, the probability of you developing a cough, fever or the major symptoms of the disease is 8.4% and the need to be hospitalised to 0%. 

What about safety? No severe adverse reactions occurred during the study. There were four unrelated deaths during the study (2 already had COVID when they signed up and had self-medicated whilst the other died of a spinal fracture).

What about older people? The study looked for efficacy and safety data in the over 60 population. Although the sample size was small (10%), the efficacy was the same in this group as for the younger ages. 

What about Sputnik in the real world? 3.8 million Russians have received Sputnik since January 2021 and vaccine effectiveness is seen at 97.6% after two doses. No severe adverse reactions have occurred due to the vaccine.

As of May’21, Russia has also now developed Sputnik Lite, a single dose version of its vaccine with a claimed efficacy of 80%. Data is yet to be made publicly available. 

Next up, China’s SinoPharm 🇨🇳

For the longest time, SinoPharm has been that elusive emo kid in a corner at your cousin’s 16th birthday party. Whilst the Sputnik team released its interim reports publicly in the most prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, SinoPharm is yet to release any data directly to the public on its Phase 3 trials.

With the WHO authorisation for emergency use, there was finally some data publicly available. 

What is it? SinoPharm is a 2 dose whole virus vaccine. The whole virus vaccine means an inactivated form of Sars-CoV-2 is used to trigger the body’s immune response. This contrasts with the other vaccines (Pfizer to AstraZeneca to Sputnik), which only uses the genetic information of the spike protein. However, as it’s an inactivated version, it cannot replicate and cause disease in the body. 

As of the time of writing, 45 countries have approved the emergency use of the vaccine, and 65 million doses have been administered globally.

Does it prevent sickness? As per the WHO report, 13,000 people have been enrolled in the trial to assess efficacy, of which only 200 (or 0.01%) were over 60. Vaccine efficacy is at 78.1% in the under 60s with insufficient data to assess the over 60 age group. Studies in the UAE shows efficacy at 86% however further details have not been published.

What does that mean? As per WHO, the probability that you will show symptomatic sickness if you contract COVID19 after being fully vaccinated with SinoPharm is around 22% if you are under the age of 60. WHO cannot tell whether the SinoPharm vaccine will have a protective effect for the over 60s with the data available. 

What about safety? Two severe adverse effects were reported to be possibly linked to the vaccine (serious nausea and inflammatory myelination syndrome). As always it’s a risk-benefit analysis and we should consider the high probability of lung and other organ damage as a result of COVID19 when weighing up any low risks of vaccine adverse effects. 

What about older people? Whilst the study doesn’t provide much data to go on, the post-authorisation use showed 1.1m doses have been given to people over 60 in China. 45 adverse reactions (dizziness, headache, fatigue) were attributed to the vaccine.

Mass vaccinations are one of the few ways we can stop this pandemic from continuing to ravage our lives for years to come. If a vaccination becomes available in your area and after speaking with your doctor about any medical concerns, we recommend getting the jab. It’s not over till we are all vaccinated so even if vaccinated, remember to wear face masks, avoid indoor gatherings, wash hands and stay home!

If you’d like to discuss your vaccination options with a medical professional, our on-demand GPs are available 24/7. Download the oDoc app today.


  1. Status of COVID19 vaccinations within WHO EUL/PQ Evaluation processes, WHO 
  2. Logunov, D et al., (2020), Safety and efficacy of an rAd26 and rAd5 vector-based heterologous prime-boost COVID-19 vaccine: an interim analysis of a randomised controlled phase 3 trial in Russia., The Lancet., 397: 671-681
  3. Sputnik, Covid19 Vaccine Tracker
  4. Is Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine safe? Brazil’s veto of Sputnik V sparks lawsuit threat and confusion, Science Magazine (2021)
  5. Efficacy of Sputnik V amounts to 97.6%, TASS (2021)
  6. SinoPharm Evidence Assessment, WHO (2021)
  7. Chinese Covid-19 vaccine has 86% efficacy, UAE says, The Guardian (2020)

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Variants, variants, but what does it mean?

Variants, variants, but what does it mean?


When COVID19 hit Sri Lankan shores in March 2020, very few of us thought that this would be something that’d last months, let alone years. Even fewer anticipated that it could mutate and create variants that made a bad situation worse. However, the nature of pandemics is such that they last years (not months), and viruses use widespread infections to become a more potent version of themselves. 

This is why, fast forward 14 months, the world now has around eight variants of the Sars-CoV-2 pathogen. What does that even mean, though?

Short read: The more the virus is allowed to spread, the more mutations it will create to evade the immune response. The variants we have seen arising out of the UK, South Africa, and Brazil are more infectious and deadly. If these variants successfully bypass the vaccine response, we will be back to square one. As such, limiting the spread of infection remains an integral part of the pandemic response.

Want to know the why behind the what?

Let’s go back to the basics. COVID19 is a disease caused by the Sars-CoV-2 pathogen. The virus is a shell containing a strand of RNA. The strand of RNA has around 30,000 letters of genetic information. This RNA gets into our cells, replicates, creates more viral cells and causes havoc in our bodies.

But sometimes, during this replication process, the infected cell makes errors when copying the letters. These errors are referred to as mutations. Genetic sequencing of PCR tests helps scientists keep track of these mutations. The mutations are bucketed into groups called lineages, and if enough viruses have the same mutation, they are called a variant. If the mutations in these variants grow varied enough and change their function, you get a strain

So let’s put this into context. 

Sars-CoV-1 caused the 2001 SARS epidemic, a different strain from Sars-CoV-2, the cause of our pandemic. Unfortunately, Sars-CoV-2 has undergone sufficient mutations in various parts of the world to now have several variants running amok. 

When does this become a problem?

Mutations are normal. Even when our DNA is replicated by our cells, mutations occur. However, the effects of the mutation are what matters the most. The CDC/WHO classify variants into i) variants of interest, ii) variants of concern and iii) variants of high consequence. 

Although ca. 8 mutations have been discovered in Sars-CoV-2, 3 of these variants are currently classified as variants of concern. Variants of concern cause more severe disease, are more contagious and can evade the vaccine response. The remaining five are categorised as variants of interest: they can surge infections and be more infectious. However, they are not entirely understood as yet. 

What’s going on in India?

Within the span of a few weeks, India has become the global epicentre of the pandemic, with ca. 400,000 new cases reported per day. The speed of transmission and the high death toll has shocked a world that thought the worst of the pandemic might be behind it. 

Scientists have discovered a double mutation in the virus roaring through India – the B 1.617 is present in ca. 80% of sequenced PCRs. 

Studies are currently underway to determine whether these mutations allow the virus to evade the vaccine immune response and immunity generated from prior infection.

Image source: Hindustan Times

Will the vaccines work against the variants?

This is a crucial question scientists are constantly examining with each variant and mutation. Unfortunately, the answers so far have been varied depending on the vaccine and the variant. 

Pfizer remains overwhelmingly strong in the face of new variants. AstraZeneca remains viable against the UK variant but less so against the South African one. The Brazilian variant appears to be bypassing the immune response of people who had already had COVID19. 


So what does all this mean for us in Sri Lanka?

Viruses mutate when allowed to replicate. They are given more chances to replicate when they are allowed to spread rapidly through a population. Most of these mutations don’t cause further harm. Still, when vaccinations and increased immunity makes it harder for the virus to survive, the mutations can become more potent. It’s evolution, after all!

Image Source: BBC

Whilst the body’s immune system remains a formidable opponent to the virus – regardless of the mutations – reducing opportunities for the virus to mutate is a critical pandemic response. 

For us, it means adhering to public health guidelines:

  • Wearing masks when outside our homes
  • Washing hands
  • Disinfecting high touch surfaces and reducing movement

By doing these things, we remove the breeding ground for the virus, maintain vaccine effectiveness till everyone can get vaccinated and hopefully, reduce COVID19 to a simple seasonal cold or flu. 

Stay safe. Stay home. 

If you need medical advice, avoid the hospital or clinic and speak to one of our 1,000 experienced doctors via video call.

Download oDoc today.  

  1. Davies N.G. et al (2021), Increased mortality in community-tested cases of SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7, Nature
  2. Volz, E et al (2021) Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Lineage B.1.1.7 in England: Insights from linking epidemiological and genetic data., Preprint MedXRiv
  3. Dasgupta, B (2021) ‘Double mutant’ most common variant now: India’s genome data., Hindustan Times
  4. Coronavirus Variant Tracker, New York Times
  5. Xieping, X et al., (2021) Neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 spike 69/70 deletion, E484K, and N501Y variants by BNT162b2 vaccine-elicited sera, BioXRiv Preprint
  6. Emary, K et al., (2021), Efficacy of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222) Vaccine Against SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01 (B.1.1.7). The Lancet, Preprint
  7. Sabino E et al., (2021), Resurgence of COVID-19 in Manaus, Brazil, despite high seroprevalence, The Lancet, 397: 452-455.
  8. Roberts, M (2021) What are the Indian, Brazil, South Africa and UK Variants? BBC News

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COVID-19 is airborne

COVID-19 is airborne.

How can you protect yourself and your loved ones?


We’ve already heard it so many times. Wear a mask. Sanitize or wash hands. Socially distance. Avoid crowds. So much so that sometimes we tune out health rules and regulations. But with the recent spike in COVID-19 patients, with more patients hospitalized and more young people at that, we need to realign and come back to what we’ve always known. COVID-19 is not going anywhere and a 3rd wave has already bulleted its way onto our shores, full throttle.

As always, oDoc is here to provide you with the latest information on COVID-19 and the best protocols for keeping you and your loved ones safe.

COVID-19 aerosols droplets

COVID-19 is airborne. What does that mean?

COVID-19 is spread through the air by respiratory droplets and aerosols. Aerosols play a significant role in increasing the infectiousness of the virus. They are tiny droplets that can remain suspended in the air for hours with poor ventilation. Bigger respiratory droplets fall to the ground in seconds and reduce the chance of getting inhaled by a non-infected person.

Let’s say you go to your gym. Maybe you’re going at non-peak hours, where there are not many people around. You may think that you could unmask and use whatever equipment you please. But if a COVID-19 infected person used the gym a few hours ago, their infected aerosols will still remain suspended in the air, especially if the space is poorly ventilated, i.e. with no open windows or fans to circulate air.

You can easily breathe in those aerosols and become infected yourself. So even if there is no one else around you in an indoor space at a specific moment in time, you can still get COVID-19 by infected people who were in that space just a few hours ago.

Things to keep strictly in mind, especially when visiting enclosed, indoor spaces:

Double mask! Make sure the fit is secure with no space for respiratory leakage. If you’re wearing a KN95 or N95, you don’t need to double mask.
mask enclosed
Wear your mask/masks whenever you’re out of your home and not only when you’re near another person as infected aerosols can still remain in the air
social distancing
If possible, meet others outdoors where any infectious particles will be rapidly diffused. Wash your hands with soap or use hand sanitizer frequently. Maintain 6 feet physical distancing

Avoid entering indoor spaces that include others who are not from your household. If you absolutely need to visit an indoors place, make sure the space is properly ventilated with multiple open windows for cross ventilation and minimize the time spent in this space. The longer time you spend indoors, the higher chance of infection!

no enclosed indoor spaces

If you or a loved one is experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, use our COVID-19 assessment tool on the oDoc app to understand your symptoms better. Alternatively, you can consult a GP on oDoc to understand next steps if you believe you might have COVID-19.

You can download the oDoc app here.



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