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Curfew in Katunayake police division tomorrow following COVID detection

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will imposing quarantine curfew in the Katunayake police division from 0500hrs Thursday (15) after COVID-19 infected patients were found in the Katunayake free trade zone (FTZ), Army Commander Lt Gen Shavendra Silva said.

PCR tests were conducted on several government factory employees in the FTZ today after over 50 workers tested positive for COVID-19, Army Spokesman Col Vijitha Hettiarachchi told EconomyNext earlier this afternoon.

Eleven patients from Next manufactures and 34 from Chiefway garments tested positive, Hettiarachchi said earlier today, adding that employees at the Seeduwa Brandix plant also tested positive for the virus. These numbers are in addition to a SriLankan Airlines cargo worker who also tested positive earlier this week.

Over 50,000 Sri Lankans are employed in factories in the FTZ.

Meanwhile, the Minuwangoda cluster has increased to 1,608 while imported cases (foreign returnees) are only 78 as of 1800 hrs today, according to the national task force for COVID-19. Out of the 1,608 patients in the Minuwangoda cluster, 1,036 are employees of Brandix while 572 are close contacts.

Even though officials confirmed that they traced everyone in the Brandix cluster, the source of the cluster has yet to be found.

Export firms elsewhere in the country are seeing a drop in attendance as workers are fearing to return to work with major FTZs being hit by the new coronavirus wave which also raises concerns over production in the country.

The health minister today dished out strict health guidelines to be followed by the factories in the island.

Naval operational rooms are to be set-up in the Biyagama and Katunayake zones to conduct PCR tests inside the respective FTZ, enabling all workers to undergo PCR tests free of charge as another alternative arrangement to cut down the rush for such tests, Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said.

Factory owners have also been advised to conduct temperature checks at least thrice a day on their employees and are not to be exposed to outsiders in society as much as possible, amongst other measures. (Colombo/Oct 14/2020)

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