Thursday, 16 July 2020 07:33

Number of active COVID-19 cases hit 650

Six persons, including five overseas arrivals, tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 2,671 and pushing the number of active cases above 650.

Of the total number of confirmed cases, 906 are Navy personnel, 794 are overseas arrivals at quarantine centres, and 506 are from the Kandakadu Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre.

The Epidemiology Unit stated that 659 COVID-19 patients are currently under medical care, and the Epidemiology Unit’s situation report published yesterday shows that 362 of them are at the Kandakadu Treatment Centre, 83 are at the Welikanda Base Hospital, 61 are at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), and 60 are at the Panagoda Army Hospital.

The Epidemiology Unit also stated that 13 persons, including one foreigner, were discharged after recovering from COVID-19. Of them, five were from the Iranawila Hospital, four from the NIID, three from the Panagoda Army Hospital, and one from the Minuwangoda Base Hospital.

This brings the total number of COVID-19 recoveries in Sri Lanka to 2,001, and the Sri Lanka Navy yesterday stated that the number of recoveries among Navy personnel has risen to 899.

In addition to this, 150 suspect patients are being monitored at various hospitals, including 19 at both the Chilaw General Hospital and the Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital. According to the Health Promotion Bureau (HPB), over 127,920 PCR tests have been carried out in the island, including 2,288 tests on Tuesday.

Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe stated that a number of contacts of those who tested positive from the Kandakadu Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre have been directed to quarantine.

This includes 73 persons at a quarantine centre in Kurunegala, and 73 at a quarantine centre in Nikawewa. These were persons who came into contact with a COVID-19 patient at a meeting held in Colombo. Dr. Jasinghe added that 150 contacts, as well as a few families in Kegalle connected to the two patients from Kundasale and 100 persons from Aparekka, Matara, are undergoing quarantine.

“We can also state that the 395 PCR samples collected in Rajanganaya [on Monday and Tuesday] came back negative for COVID-19, as did the PCR samples taken at the private hospital in Ragama,” Dr. Jasinghe added.

A large number of PCR samples were collected from all parts of the island yesterday, including 101 from Kundasale, 74 near the Kotugoda Church, 266 from Thanthirimale Rantabe, 200 from those who visited the Polonnaruwa Hospital, and 150 from Rajanganaya.

“Regarding the situation at the Yala Kotugoda church, a COVID-19 patient had visited the premises and this is why samples were collected. However, the situation has now returned to normal, and the church has been permitted to carry on operations as usual,” Dr. Jasinghe added.

Sri Lanka Army spokesperson Brigadier Chandana Wickremasinghe stated, “The public should be informed that contacts of those who test positive for COVID-19 will be identified and self-quarantined. This in no way means that they have COVID-19. This measure is taken to prevent the virus from spreading in the community.”

According to the Epidemiology Unit, the last community case in the island was reported on 30 April.

Regarding persons at quarantine centres, the Sri Lanka Navy stated that 22 persons left the Kalpitiya and Boossa Quarantine Centres on Monday and Tuesday, and that a total of 473 persons have left the Boossa centre so far, while a further 72 persons are currently undergoing quarantine at the centre. “Meanwhile, 69 persons have left the naval quarantine centre in Kalpitiya and a further 25 persons are undergoing the quarantine process there,” the Sri Lanka Navy added in a statement.

While discussing measures taken by the health authorities to prevent community spread of COVID-19, the Health Services Director General also stated that organisation heads will be responsible for their employees, whether in the public sector or private sector.

He explained that at present and in the future, heads of organisations should be responsible for the people at the organisation, even if they are universities or hostels, and get them the required treatment if they show symptoms like fever and respiratory issues. Dr. Jasinghe added that it was important to ask those who are unwell to remain at home, and to separate units as much as possible, while also following health guidelines.

The Sri Lanka Police also shared their views on the measures taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country, and DIG Ajith Rohana yesterday claimed that only 20 patients have been identified from outside the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Centre cluster. “Sixteen of the 20 are from Rajanganaya, and only four have been identified from outside areas,” he said, pointing out that the Navy cluster which reached more than 800 was effectively managed by health officials.

“We cannot say that what is happening now is community spreading. I am not a medical specialist, but even the health officials of the country do not believe that we have reached that stage,” Rohana stated. However, he said that over a thousand persons have been moved into quarantine as a precautionary measure.

“Health authorities and intelligence agencies have traced the first ring and second ring of contacts of the infected persons from the Kandakadu cluster,” he said, adding that the Kandakadu cluster was the 32-cluster identified in Sri Lanka.

DIG Rohana said that the Police department will take stern action against those who break public health regulations, and warned the public not to share unverified information on social media, pointing out that the spread of fake news creates a climate of fear in the country.

“We have taken action against those who have been spreading fake news, and we have already questioned and recorded statements from four individuals. I am sad to report that one of those persons is a senior lecturer at an educational institution. The law will be applied to them,” Rohana said, pointing out that only verified sources of information should be accepted as truthful.

He called on the public to adhere to the public health regulations and best practices, and urged those in self-quarantine to remain indoors, and limit contact with others as much as possible.


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