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Health Dept. – Navy cluster contributes more than half of COVID 19 positive total of 847

PRAISEWORTHY CAMPAIGN – Retired Maj Gen Sumith Atapattu, now an Opposition candidate praises Security Forces for their work in battling COVID 19

ECONOMYNEXT – As of today more than half of the patients infected by COVID 19 in Sri Lanka since the outbreak are from the so-called Navy cluster as all 12 new cases diagnosed today are from the Sri Lanka Navy, the Health Department said.

In a media release issued today, May 9, the Director-General of Health Services Dr Anil Jasinghe said this brings the total number of COVID 19 positive patients to 847.

Out of the total 449 of the confirmed patients are Navy personnel or their close associates, the Epidemiological Unit of the Department of Health said.

Navy personnel from the Welisara navy camp who were deployed to quarantine suspected patients became infected probably from the individuals they had traced.

From April 22 to May 9, there have been 527 new patients diagnosed as COVID 19 positive and of them 437 are Navy personnel and their associates. The other 90 cases came from other known clusters, the Epidemiological Unit said.

The disease spread rapidly in the large camp causing thousands of Navy personnel to be quarantined.

Family members and other associates of the Navy personnel from the camp also became infected after sailors on leave went to their home villages in different parts of the country.

This caused clusters to emerge from areas outside the high-risk areas of Colombo, Kalutara and Gampaha which have been on lockdown for nearly 40 days.

Retired Army Major-General Sumith Atapattu says that there is no need for an inquiry into the episode.

“The Navy was given a task and they set about carrying it out, perhaps they should have had better protective gear,” Atapattu said.

“We call Security Forces personnel heroes then they are sent in to deal with difficult situations. During the war, we gave them the necessary weapons and gear. Now the government has a duty to equip these personnel with proper protective gear to deal with this threat,” the former Army spokesman said.

Atapattu, who is now a politician and a candidate for the Parliamentary election from the Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya, said he had no criticism of the campaign against COVID 19.

“The Armed Forces and police in Sri Lanka along with the Health Services are carrying out a very effective and praiseworthy campaign against the COVID 19 threat. We have no criticism over that,” he added.