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Sunday June 20th, 2021
Health

“Illegal” Indian family arrested in Sri Lanka amid calls for tighter border control

ECONOMYNEXT – A family suspected to be from Rameshwaran, India was arrested in Sri Lanka’s Jaffna peninsula for illegal entry, police said, amid calls for tighter border control to keep out deadlier strains of SARS-Cov-2.

Police Media Spokesman Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Ajith Rohana said the family, comprising a 61-year-old woman, her 34-year-old daughter and the daughter’s two sons aged nine and five, were taken into custody today (13). Initial investigations have revealed they had come from Rameshwaram, India, he said.

“They had arrived from India on May 6 on an Indian boat halfway and the rest of the way aboard a Sri Lankan fishing boat,” Rohana said.

Earlier this month, police found two other families who had allegedly come to Sri Lanka illegally and were said to be hiding in Puttalam and Kochchikade.

Sri Lanka found an Indian national with the B.1.617 strain of SARS-CoV-2, known as Indian variant, on May 08.

Chief Epidemiologist Dr Sudath Smaraweera said in an interview with the Government Information Department  yesterday that the Indian national who tested positive for the strain in Sri Lanka – the island’s only case yet – had made a full recovery, but  there is no way to know for certain if the highly transmissible variant is present in the community without further genome sequencing.

Samaraweera said the Indian strain, which has caused much devastation across the Palk Strait, poses a threat to Sri Lanka too.

Related: Only one case of Indian B.1.617 strain in Sri Lanka so far, but threat persists: official

As of writing, B.1.617 has been detected in 44 countries and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared it a fourth ‘variant of concern’.

These strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are more transmissible, or are associated with more disease severity, or evaded immunity (meaning they can infect people who have already had COVID-19 or have received a vaccine).

Sri Lanka confirmed 2,386 daily COVID-19 cases on May 12.

Smaraweera said the numbers are expected to further rise in the coming days.

“The fast-spreading UK variant in the country is also suspected to have come from a foreign returnee,” he said.

“The danger is high as we have found an Indian national with the Indian variant as well now.”

Samaraweera said the best way to prevent the strain from coming to the country is to follow strict quarantine system.

Sri Lanka has re-imposed a 14-day mandatory quarantine till May 31 for all inbound passengers including returnees, tourists and diplomatic staff irrespective of their COVID-19 vaccination status from May 12 onwards. (Colombo / May 13/2021)

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