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Local PHIs, MOH not informed of Russian crew being sent to quarantine centre: PHI union

ECONOMYNEXT – Local Public Health Inspectors (PHI) or Medical Officers of Health (MOH) were not informed that a Russian airline crew, one of whom has tested positive for COVID-19, were being quarantined at a hotel in Matara, President of Public Health Inspectors Union of Sri Lanka Upul Rohana said.

“They were not supervised by any PHI or MOH officers in the area since they were directed to the hotel in Polhena, Matara, without informing anyone,” Rohana told EconomyNext.

The epidemiology unit of the Ministry of Health is supposed to inform local PHIs and MOHs of any transfer of people being quarantined, he said, which did not happen in this case.

The crew of 15 members had arrived at the Mattala international airport aboard a Russian non-schedule flight on September 13. A 52-year-old male member of the plane’s crew tested positive for the novel coronavirus yesterday. This was discovered during the mandated second PCR test carried out by health authorities before departure.

“Normally when an airline comes into the country we conduct PCR tests of the crew at the airport. If they test negative, the crew members can check into a private hotel and stay there until their next flight. Before the day of departure, another PCR test will be conducted to identify any patients,” explained Rohana.

According to National Operations Center for Prevention for COVID (NOCPOC), the crew was accommodated at Amaya Jetwing Hotel Matara. The flight had first touch-down in India before coming to Sri Lanka.

NOCPOC confirmed that the crew visited a supermarket in the area.

However, Rohana reiterated that the crew was transported to the hotel in question without informing the PHI or MOH in the area.

“We cannot confirm that they did not go anywhere because we were not informed and there was no supervision,” he said.

The Russian COVID-19 has been admitted to the Hambantota Hospital.

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“Other crew members were taken in by the armed forces. They will be sent to quarantine centers or will be sent back to Russia” Rohana said.

100-150 members of Hotel staff and their family members has been directed to quarantine.

“The hotel staff will be quarantined at the hotel while their family members will be sent to quarantine centres run by the military. The drivers who transported them will be under self-quarantine as well.”

Rohana added that the PHIs and the health authorities are tracing any other contacts of the crew members, hotel staff and the drivers. (Colombo/Sep24/2020)

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