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Navy vows not to let COVID 19 “escape” the virus ravaged Welisara camp

ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka Navy is vowing that it will not allow the COVID 19 pandemic that has caused a lockdown of the Navy’s massive Welisara camp to “escape outside our facility.”

The Navy spokesman Lt Commander Isuru Sooriyabandara told EconomyNext this as another 20 Navy personnel were diagnosed with the Coronavirus bringing the number of confirmed COVID 19 cases in Sri Lanka to 915.

The total number of Armed Forces personnel infected with the virus is 485 with 474 from the Navy, 10 from the Army and 1 from the Air Force.

The Navy cluster reported first on April 22, has yielded more than half of the total confirmed COVID 19 cases in the country.

The Navy, helped by personnel from the Health Department is conducting PCR tests on all those living in the camp at Welisara, Sooriyabandara said.

“We have up to now conducted nearly 3,000 PCR tests on people living in the camp,” he said.

He said the samples are collected from the personnel by Health technicians and sent to government-run laboratories such as the Medical Research Institute or the facilities at Katukurunda for testing.

“Sometimes even if the test comes back negative we test the person again to confirm,” Sooriyabandara said. “That is the logic of the PCR test.”

Sooriyabandara added that 126 infected personnel have recovered fully and will be released after a 14-day quarantine period.

Welisara has several hundred married quarters where Navy personnel live with their families. Most of the Sailors live in barracks and the complex has its own hospital.

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The complex houses around 4,200 personnel and their families.

Sooriyabandara said that the camp maintains its own Quarantine Centre and there are some people isolated there. Others including some family members and close associates of infected Navy personnel are in centres which are also run by the Navy.

“We are looking after them very well,” he said.

Sooriyabandara also denied that the operational capabilities of the Navy has been affected by the COVID 19 epidemic particularly because it has appeared to ravage the Navy.

“This is only confined to the Welisara camp,” he said.

“There are more than fifty thousand personnel outside who are carrying out their duties,” he said.

In fact he said the Navy has stepped up its Maritime Surveillance operations during this period.

“The smugglers and others who are operating in our waters are thinking that because of the crisis they can carry out their illegal activities with some freedom. But we have increased surveillance because of this.” (Colombo, May 14, 2020)