ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan health officials identified 87 new COVID-19 patients over a 24-hour period that ended at 6am today (20), the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of COVID-19 (NOCPOC) said.
All the new patients are 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 5,625. Some 297 individuals are currently under investigation in hospitals, with 2,172 active cases.
Thirty-seven Sri Lankan patients returned home upon recovery as at 6am today bringing total recoveries in Sri Lanka to 3,440. Of these 37, 20 are returnees from abroad and 17 are patients from the Minuwangoda cluster.
The number of patients reported from the Minuwangoda cluster has increased to 2,164 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 20 to 2,164 ,with 1,041 employees and 1,123 close contacts being identified as positive cases.
By this morning, four returnees arrived in Colombo, all of whom flew in from Doha, Qatar, NOCPOC said, adding that all returnees will be directed to military-run quarantine centres.
Some 72people ended their quarantine at military-run centres yesterday, according to NOCPOC. A total of 55,073 people have completed quarantine so far.
So far, the government has provided quarantine facilities for 43,444 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.
Meanwhile, the number of people in quarantine in 76 centres run by the armed forces is 8,623.
A total of 391,060 PCR tests have been conducted in the island so far, with 6,873 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 20 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, 2,164 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.
Sri Lanka’s health officials detected another 12 COVID-19 infection cases in the Colombo Dockyard, a Sri Lankan shipbuilding unit of Japan’s Onomichi Dockyard yesterday.
Out of the 12, six stay at the dockyard housing scheme in Bloemendhal Colombo 13, and are residents of Ragama, Matugama, Wananupuwa, Galle,Negambo and Mulatiyana Matara.
Another 20 first-contacts found from the housing scheme were also sent to a quarantine facility in Jaffna, NOCPOC said
Meanwhile, an unspecified number of employees of MAS Holdings, Sri Lanka’s largest apparel manufacturer, have tested positive for COVID-19, the company said in an official statement yesterday.
Despite safety measures taken to contain COVID-19 infections, the company said, “a few of its employees who live in highly contagious areas” have tested positive for the virus.
Stringent measures have been put in place to prevent further spread, it added.
MAS Holdings had closed its facilities in the police curfew areas in the Gampaha district from October 4 including the MAS Active Sleekline facility in Nittambuwa.
The infected patients reported from MAS were individuals who were based in or associated with the infected facilities and were identified when conducting PCR tests, MAS said. (Colombo/October 20/2020)