Blood cancer care in a resource limited setting during the Covid-19 outbreak; a single center experience from Sri Lanka

Saman Hewamana, Thurairajah Skandarajah, Chathuri Jayasinghe, Samadhi Deshapriya, Dhananjani Senarathna, Gehan Arseculeratne, Mahesh Harischandra, Gnani Somasundaram, Vadivelu Srinivasan, Surjit Somiah, Nihal Munasinghe, Sangeetha Hewawasam, Lalith Ekanayake, Rohini Wadanamby, Geethani Galagoda, Thet Thet Lin, Jayantha Balawardena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: The Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant morbidity and mortality among patients with cancer. Most countries employed measures to prevent spread of Covid-19 infection which include shielding, quarantine, lockdown, travel restrictions, physical distancing and the use of personal protective equipment. This study was carried out to assess the change in patient attendance and the efficacy of newly implemented strategies to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on services at the Lanka Hospital Blood Cancer Centre (LHBCC) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. 

Methodology: Telephone consultation, infection control, personal protective measures and emergency admission policy were implemented with the aim of having a Covid-19 free ward and to prevent cross-infections. This descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted with 1399 patient episodes (in-patient care or day-case review). We analysed patients treated as inpatient as well as day-case basis between 01st April 2020 and 31st December 2020. 

Results: There were 977 day-case based episodes and 422 in-patient based episodes. There was a 14% drop in episode numbers compared to same period in 2019. There was no cross infection and no patients with Covid-19 related symptoms or positive test results entered the LHBCC during the study period. 

Conclusion: Services in blood cancer care were maintained to prevent late stage presentation and adverse outcome. Measures implemented to prevent Covid-19 were effective to allow continuation of treatment. This study highlights the importance of implementing strict protocols, clinical screening, use of appropriate personal protective equipment in delivering blood cancer care during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the only documented study relating to outcome and successful applicability of measures to prevent spread of Covid-19 infection and maintaining services among blood cancer patients in Sri Lanka.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0256941
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2021 Hewamana et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • COVID-19
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hematologic Neoplasms
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Sri Lanka
  • Telemedicine


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