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Forty more COVID 19 patients take total to 1,683; 27 from Qatar

ECONOMYNEXT – The number of COVID 19 positive patients increased by 40 yesterday after 32 returnees from the Middle-East tested positive, the Health Department said, taking the total infected since the outbreak to 1,683.

Of them, 27 are returnees from Qatar, 3 from Kuwait and 1 each from Dubai and Russia, Col. (Media) Vijitha Hettiarachchi from the COVID 19 Task Force said.

The others are 7 Navy personnel and 1 family member from the Navy.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government continues to bring back people wanting to return home.

According to the latest update released by the Ministry of Foreign Relations, as of May 27, 42,522 people from 123 countries have applied to return to Sri Lanka.

“Of these, migrant workers amounted to 34,881 of which 20,893 are living in the Middle East, while 4,961 were short term visa holders, and 2,016 were students,” the Ministry said.

From Kuwait 466 have returned with 379 benefiting from the amnesty given to illegals and had surrendered to the camps between 21-25 April the Ministry said. Eighty-seven were from Kuwaiti detention centres and prisons.

Although the Sri Lankan government had requested the Kuwaiti authorities to conduct PCR tests for COVID 19 before these returnees boarded the flights home, the Kuwaiti authorities had said this would not be possible.

However, they had said anyone with COVID 19 symptoms would not be boarded.

The Ministry says that the “the greatest vulnerability was in the Maldives, but particularly in Greater Male where a red alert has been declared by the Maldivian Government, which has explicitly requested foreign governments to evacuate their citizens.”

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“Of approximately 7000 presently seeking repatriation from the Maldives, almost 2000 are in Greater Male. On 14 May, 284 were repatriated and special approval had to be secured to evacuate a few medical emergency cases from outer Male” the Ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry has consulted the Maldivian authorities, who have expressed willingness for PCR tests to be done in advance on Sri Lankans to be repatriated, provided that PCR test kits and medical personnel from Sri Lanka would be made available to conduct these tests. (Colombo, June 3, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana