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Huge surge in COVID 19 patients as 30 Navymen test postive at Welisara

UNDER LOCKDOWN -File photo of Navy Camp at Welisara

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has had the biggest surge in new COVID 19 cases since the outbreak today April 23, after 30 Navy personnel at the huge Welisara camp were confirmed as having contracted the virus.

Along with other cases detected at various quarantine centres the total number of cases reported today is 38 taking the total to 368 since the outbreak.

The Army Chief Lt General Shavendra Silva said in a video press release this evening that the Welisara camp had been isolated after a sailor who was on leave in Polonnaruwa was diagnosed with the virus.

Thereafter the barracks he was living in was quarantined and all the sailors there were tested.

“We now have 30 sailors including the person detected at Polonnaruwa who are confirmed as COVID 19 patients,” Silva said.

He said that all personnel who have had contact with these 30 sailors are now being tested and Navy personnel from the camp who are on leave have been ordered to report to duty.

He says that the sailor found in Polonnaruwa had been infected by another sailor who was in the same barracks.

The Army Chief said that the sailors had contracted the virus when they had gone to the Suduwella area in Ja-ela to take into quarantine a group of alleged drug addicts who were suspected to have contracted the disease and had escaped from the authorities.

“He was infected doing his duty,” the Commander said.

The previous highest in a single day was 33 cases detected on April 20. This was nearly double the highest recorded before which was 17 cases on April 19.

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The surge in cases comes as the government is looking to lift curfews and ease lockdowns to get the stalled economy moving again.

The government is also keen to achieve a level of normalcy before Parliamentary General Elections are held on June 20. The poll, originally slated for May 28 has been postponed.

Testing rates have increased in the past week with 43 centres identified as being capable of conducting the PCR tests around the island.

On Wednesday officials conducted 530 tests at the country’s main fish market after a fishmonger tested positive. (Colombo, April 23, 2020)