63 new COVID-19 patients in Sri Lanka; total cases rise to 5,538

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan health officials identified 63 new COVID-19 patients over a 24-hour period that ended at 6am today (19), the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of COVID-19 (NOCPOC) said.

Of the 63 patients, two are returnees from Japan, the rest being identified as close contacts of the employees of Minuwangoda brandix plant from different areas in the country.

With the new cases, total confirmed COVID-19 patients in the island has risen to 5,538. Some 306 individuals are currently under investigation in hospitals, with 2,122 active cases.

Eight Sri Lankan patients returned home upon recovery as at 6am today bringing total recoveries in Sri Lanka to 3,403. Of these eight, five are returnees from abroad and three are patients from the Minuwangoda cluster.

The number of patients reported from the Minuwangoda cluster has increased to 2,077 with the new 61 positive cases identified.

NOCPOC reports showed that after the first positive case of the Divulapitiya cluster was discovered by health authorities on October 03, within first week the cluster increased to 1,186 and by October 18 to 2,077 ,with 1,041 employees and 1,036 close contacts being identified as positive cases.

By this morning, 10 returnees arrived in Colombo, all of whom flew in from Japan, Narita, NOCPOC said, adding that all returnees will be directed to military-run quarantine centres.

Some 205 people ended their quarantine at military-run centres yesterday, according to NOCPOC. A total of 54,328 people have completed quarantine so far.

So far, the government has provided quarantine facilities for 43,440 returnees.

NOCPOC said 1,457 returnees to the island have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, while 79 foreigners have also been identified so far by authorities as COVID-19 positive cases.

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Meanwhile, the number of people in quarantine in 83 centres run by the armed forces has increased to 9,287.

A total of 383,961 PCR tests have been conducted in the island so far, with 9,838 tests carried out yesterday. NOCPOC reports said, adding that the results of some PCR tests are still pending.

Chief Epidemiologist of the Ministry of Health’s Epidemiology Unit Doctor Sudath Samaraweera said PCR tests of all employees at the Minuwangoda Brandix apparel plant have been completed. Health officials are continuing to test close contacts of the employees and other residents in the Minuwangoda area.

Sri Lanka as at October 19 records 13 COVID-19 related deaths.

Officials said the COVID-19 Prevention Task Force is currently investigating three-clusters of possible novel coronoavirus patients related to the discovery of the patient in Divulapitiya, and, as of now, 1,083 cases have been discovered so far in these clusters.

The towns of Minuwangoda, Divulapitiya, Veyangoda, Gampaha, Kirindiwela, Dompe, Pugoda, Ganemulla, Weeragula, Weliweriya, Malwathuhiripitiya, Nittambuwa, Meerigama, Pallewela, Yakkala, Ja-ela, Seeduwa and Kandana Police areas are still under police curfew.

Aththanagalla and Meerigama divisional secretary areas as well as Maligathanna, Kurigama, Eluwapitiya villages and Katunayaka have also been locked down with new patients being discovered in those areas.

Hospitals in Minuwangoda, Welikanda, Iranawila, Rambukkana, Kamburugamuwa, Kattankudi, Hambanthota, Theldeniya, Mulleriyawa, as well as the Infectious Diseases Hospital and the Neville Fernando Hospital and the Homagama, Ambalpola and Laggala, Pallegama hospitals have been taken over by the health services department to treat COVID-19 patients.

Sri Lanka has conducted around 10,000 tests in industrial zones under the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and 5,000 in those outside, State Minister for Aviation and Investment Zone Development D V Chanaka said.

There is no plan to close the zones, he told reporters, but they will follow health regulations.

According to health sector sources, around 212 cases had been confirmed in the Katunayake Export Processing Zone.

Meanwhile, authorities locked down four areas in Matugama as a mini-cluster of infections were found. A total of 61 new confirmed cases were found yesterday.

Ovitigala, Badugama, Badugma Nawa Janapadaya in the Matugama Divisional Secretariat had been isolated after 17 patients were confirmed, the task force said.

Reports said the confirmed persons included a monk and four student monks.

In Negombo a shopping complex was shut down after a trader and his wife tested positive for the virus.

A nurse at a Hirdramani group apparel factory in Kahathuduwa was also confirmed. Authorities said 200 PCR samples were taken there.

Three family members of an NDB Branch worker was also confirmed in Arauwala, Pannnipitiya.

Wards 33, 60 and 03 at the National Hospital in Colombo were closed after a patient from Ja-Ela who was treated there tested positive for COVID-19.

In Gampola, a carpenter was confirmed with the novel coronavirus. He had worked at a temple in Veyangoda, an area which is now under coronavirus curfew, reports said. (Colombo/Oct19/2020)

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