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Brandix workers probably got Covid from a foreign source – Minister

State Minister Dr Sudharshini Fernandopulle gets her appointment from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa/PMD handout

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s Minister tasked with dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic Dr Sudharshini Fernandopulle believes that staff at the Minuwangoda Brandix factory were infected with the virus by someone who came from overseas.

Fernandopulle, whose formal title is State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemiology and Coronavirus Disease Control, said probes “conducted from different angles” led the authorities to feel the strongest assumption was that the virus was transmitted from a person who was a visitor.

She was responding to a question raised by Opposition MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

Fernandopulle said further investigations revealed that a Ukrainian aircrew member who was accommodated in the Seeduwa Ramada hotel was infected with the virus while several staff members of the hotel also caught the bug.

“It was observed that the staff members of the hotel had several connections with the workers at the Brandix factory in Minuwangoda, so to a great extent, it can be assumed that’s how the virus got inside the factory,” she said.

Further, she said the analysis of the virus done at the Sri Jayewardenepura University by Prof Neelika Malavige revealed that the COVID-19 virus strain that spread from the Brandix factory across the country since October is different from the previous strain observed in the country and similar to a strain found in Europe.

She added that it was also a factor for the deduction made about the Ukrainian aircrew member.

More than 23,000 Covid positive cases in Sri Lanka has been traced to the cluster surrounding the factory which the Epidemiologists are calling the Minuwangoda-Peliyagoda cluster.

Joining the debate, Minister of Public Security retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara said detectives from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) trying to find the source of the virus in the Brandix factory are yet to come to a final conclusion.

The investigation is being conducted as directed by the Attorney-General and has recorded over 100 statements from the infected workers.





From the statements, he said that it was revealed that some workers have kept on working in the factory taking Paracetamol tablets for the fever, in order to get the OT allowances

He added that over 20 CID officers and 70 CCD officers who were deployed for the investigations have been infected with COVID-19. (Colombo/Dec7/2020)

Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe

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