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92 new COVID-19 patients in Sri Lanka; total cases rise to 4,844

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan health officials identified 92 new COVID-19 patients over a 24-hour period that ended at 6am today (13), the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of COVID-19 (NOCPOC) said.

Of the 92 patients, two are foreigners from Turkey. Of the 90 local patients, all are close contacts of the Minuwangoda cluster.

With the new cases, total confirmed COVID-19 patients in the island has risen to 4,844. Some 306 individuals are currently under investigation in hospitals, with 1,514 active cases.

Ten Sri Lankan patients who had arrived from abroad returned home upon recovery as at 6am today, bringing total recoveries in Sri Lanka to 3,317.

The number of patients reported from the Minuwangoda cluster increased to 1,397, with the 90 employees and their close contacts that tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours.

NOCPOC reports showed that after the first positive case of the Divulapitiya cluster was discovered by health authorities on October 03, within the first week the cluster increased to 1,186. By October 13 it increased to 1,397 with 1,036 employees and 361 close contacts being identified as positive cases.

By this morning, 61 returnees arrived in Colombo: 48 from Doha, Qatar, eight from Abu Dhabi and five from Chennai, India, NOCPOC said, adding that all returnees will be directed to military-run quarantine centres.

Some 547 people ended their quarantine at military-run centres yesterday, according to NOCPOC. A total of 51,480 people have completed quarantine so far.

NOCPOC said so far the government has provided quarantine facilities for 43,394 returnees.

NOCPOC said 1,451 returnees to the island have tested positive for the novel coronavirus so far. Up to 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 90 centres run by the armed forces has increased to 10,281.

A total of 335,752 PCR tests have been conducted in the island so far, with 6,648 tests carried out yesterday. NOCPOC reports said, adding that the results of some 1,082 PCR tests are still pending.

Up to 24,778 PCR tests have been carried out relating to the Minuwangoda Brandix cluster.

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 12 records 13 COVID-19 related deaths.

Yesterday an employee of the National Development Bank (NDB) Marine Drive an SriLankan Airlines cargo employee also tested positive for the virus.

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.

Yesterday the Pattihihottam and Periyakadei areas in the Mannar district were reopened to the public.

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

Some apparel manufacturing companies located in the Katunayaka free trade zone reduced the number of employees working at a given time following the discovery of new patients at the Brandix Seeduwa plant, Next Manufactures and ATG company, a surgical gloves manufacturing company.

NOCPOC said after several patients were discovered from Next Manufactures, health authorities increased the number of PCR tests conducted in the free trade zone (FTZ).

The Board of Investment has also requested all export companies in the Katunayaka FTZ to direct five percent of their employees to PCR tests.

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 Police have asked all the companies in Sri Lanka to update the employment records of the staff with the current addresses and telephone numbers so that workers can be tracked down quickly if necessary.

When authorities were trying to track down workers of the Brandix factory they could not be found at the addresses given and the phone numbers were not working, Deputy Inspector General Ajith Rohana told the media.

“What happens is personnel departments make a file when a person is hired,” DIG Rohana said. “But when staff members shift, the records are not updated.

“We are asking all companies to update their employment records.”

Rohana said almost all workers of the factory are now in quarantine, but there are difficulties in getting information over their contacts owing to quarantine restrictions. (Colombo/Oct13/2020)

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