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Sri Lanka Covid-19 chief urges people to avoid non-essential travel in next 72hours

ECONOMYNEXT – People should avoid non-essential travel and limit movements to job-related activities in the next 72 hours, Sri Lanka’s army chief said as authorities scramble to track the index case of the latest Coronavirus infection.

General Shavendra Silva who heads Sri Lanka’s Anti-Covid task force said the daughter of the infected person found from Divulapitiya had tested positive so far, but the rest of the family tested negative.

“No one should go around unnecessarily, except for work and essential purposes in the next 72 hours,” General Silva told Sri Lanka’s Derana Television.

“We are awaiting the results of about 150 PCR tests and we will know more.”

UPDATE: Seventy Covid 19 positive cases now in the Minuwangoda, Divulapitiya and Veyangoda areas – officials

General Silva said authorities are trying to find the source of the infection. The towns of Divulapitiya, Minuwangoda and Veyangoda are under indefinite curfew.

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Sri Lanka hunts source of Divulapitiya Covid-19 case under curfew, public vigilance urged

General Silva said persons who visited these areas, as well as those who visited the Brandix factory in Minuwangoda to meet employees should be careful.

“People from many areas had come to meet friends and relatives,” General Silva said. “They know who they are, and they should be careful.”

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Sri Lanka’s chief epidemiologist Sudath Samaraweera had also urged the public to remain at home until authorities trace and test associates of the patient, which was the first to be found from the community in two months.

“It can be in the community,” Samaraweera told reporters Sunday. “Do not leave your homes unnecessarily. If anyone ventures out follow social distancing and wear masks.”

He urged workplaces to inform health authorities if any respiratory diseases were found to be spreading among staff.

“If there is a spread of respiratory disease in any institution, with Covid-19 related symptoms like fever or cough, please inform the public health inspector and medical services in the area,” he said.

“We can test to check whether it is Covid-19.”

He said public support is needed to quickly control the situation.

Sri Lanka is one of few countries in the world that had successfully controlled the spread of the disease. The Health Ministry said up to October 04, 3,402 persons had been confirmed and 13 had died.

Sri Lanka has tracing and quarantine mechanisms which are deployed quickly with an island-wide network of public health inspectors and medical officers who battle tropical disease outbreaks on an ongoing basis.

Sri Lanka’s health authorities have also urged people in the Gampaha district who show fever-related symptoms to get a Coronavirus PCR test from the nearest hospital.

Authorities are scrambling to find the index case, where the infections had started. Another person, a foreign returnee and therefore an index case, had also tested positive in Habaraduwa in Galle.

Test samples have been collected from lose associates of the infected line supervisor of the Minuwangoda factory as well as fellow travellers of the company bus she used, General Silva said.

Results are due Monday morning, he said.

Also tested were 33 workers at the factory who had undergone medical treatment in recent days with cough and other symptoms, he said.

The person was found when the Gampaha Hospital where she was given medical treatment tested her before discharge.

A total of 1,400 workers at the factory will also be tested today and tomorrow, he said.

The 39-year old apparel factory worker was the first Covid-19 patient to be identified after almost two months.

Sri Lanka has also closed schools and urged people not to go to parties.

Police Deputy Inspector General Ajith Rohana said 10 curfew breakers had been arrested overnight.

But people are allowed to travel through the curfew areas, but they cannot stop to pick up or drop passengers, he said. (Colombo/Oct05/2020)