No idea how the first Covid patient at the Minuwangoda factory became infected – Pavithra

ECONOMYNEXT – The country’s Health Services are yet to definitely find out how the Covid 19 virus entered the Minuwangoda-based Brandix textile plant Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told Parliament today.

Replying to questions raised by the Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa, she said that for a period of 3 months since August 2 there were no cases that emerged from the community.

However, she alluded to the presence of Covid 19 patients who were in various hospitals throughout the country who had come to Sri Lanka from overseas but did not specifically say they were responsible for the infection being spread.

Foreign returnees are being brought back under strict conditions are tested for the virus have to undergo quarantine supervised by the military and health inspectors in Sri Lanka.

“We don’t admit sick people into the country, but specialists say that patients are infectious although they do not show symptoms,” she told the House.

The Minuwangoda cluster is the biggest the country has seen since the outbreak yielding 2121 confirmed cases after the authorities performed over 84,000 PCR tests, the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of Covid 19 (NOCPOC) said.

Nine police divisions in the Gampaha District are still under curfew and several areas ranging from Matugama in the South to islands off the Northern Jaffna Peninsula are isolated due to Covid patients.

The Minister said that 48 staff from Brandix installations in India had entered the country on September 22 and had been in a quarantine centre run by the Army, the Koggala Sheraton hotel, until October 6 and then been self-quarantined for a further 14 days.

“They had no contact with the factory or the staff,” Wanniarachchi certified.

Asked about the complaints made by people under quarantine that they were whisked off by military personnel from their homes and then not provided food and drink and proper facilities, the Minister promised to investigate the complaints.

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“However most people who have been in these quarantine centres have praised the Armed Forces for the excellent facilities that were provided,” she said.

More than ten thousand at-risk persons are now in quarantine centres run by the Armed Forces, NOCPOC said.

She said that each family where members had lost their livelihoods in the areas under curfew are being given LKR5,000 each.

Opposition MPs said the money has been distributed to only three such areas while there are six regions which have not received any assistance. (Colombo, October 20, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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