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Sri Lanka cancels military leave as 95 sailors get Coronavirus amid testing gap, count 477

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has cancelled leave off members of all three forces and asked them to report to base, with 95 sailors so far being infected with Coronavirus amid a gap in testing at risk groups.

Sri Lanka’s military chief Shavendra Silva who heads an anti-Covid task force said transport would be provided to all members of the tri-forces on leave to come back to base.

On April 26, 11 new cases had been confirmed up to late afternoon with one person from the Kandakadu quarantine centre and 10 sailors on leave.

Up to now 68 sailors from inside Welisara camp, and 27 persons outside the camp totaling 95 sailors had been confirmed.

More tests are being carried out, General Silva said.

Members of the families of sailors and their first contacts (F1) had been identified and they have been taken to a quarantine centre, he said.

Their second and third contacts had been isolated at home, he said.

The spike in infections in the armed forces comes amid calls to test high risk groups. Sri Lanka has been reluctant to test persons outside clusters that have already been discovered.

Health officials have also denied easy drive in tests for asymptomatic members of the public.

There have been warnings that expecting symptomatic cases to turn up in hospital and denying precautionary tests to members of the public and at risk groups including quarantine workers especially after curfews are relaxed would increase the risk of the virus spreading.

“The current contact tracing strategy has a serious flaw in that it is too dependent on symptomatic cases and there is no way to detect an infected index case that is asymptomatic,” Advocata Institute, a Colombo-based think tank said.

“Voluntary testing, random testing of people in high-risk areas will increase the chance of asymptomatic index cases and members of clusters being discovered.

“Once curfew is lifted, the front office staff of any institution including airports, quarantine workers, cleaning staff, people working in economic centres, and drivers may be exposed to higher risks.

“Those in driving/delivery related jobs, in particular, would also be in a position to spread the disease faster and to a greater area.”


(Colombo/Apr26/2020)

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