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Sri Lanka COVID 19 cluster prevents postal voting in Rajangana

ECONOMYNEXT – Three sections of the Rajanganaya area are in virtual lockdown and as a result postal Voting in the Medical Officer of Health offices did not take place as scheduled due to the emergence of a COVID cluster, officials said.

The District Returning Officer for the Anuradhapura District R M Wanninayake said that as Public Health Inspectors and other health officials were busy conducting PCR tests on suspected cases and setting up quarantine facilities the voting could not take place.

Health Department personnel across the country were due to cast their ballots for the August 5th Parliamentary General Elections today.

“Postal voting did not take place in the Rajangana Pradeshiya Sabha area,” Wanninayake told EconomyNext.

COVID 19 came to this farming community in the North Central Province via an Army officer who is an instructor at the Kandakadu Rehabilitation and Treatment centre for drug addicts.

Some 519 new COVID cases have been discovered at two camps which serve as treatment centres. It includes inmates, staff and family members scattered in many different parts of the country.

This is one of the biggest clusters found in Sri Lanka since the outbreak.

The Army officer had attended a family funeral shortly after he went home on leave and thereafter a traditional alms-giving ceremony.

Up to now, 16 people are infected, including the wife and two sons of the Army officer, one of whom is an infant.

Most of the residents of the area are in quarantine, officials said as they had attended the funeral and many had also participated in the alms-giving.

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The new outbreak has spread fear and concern across the country.

The government ordered schools which were gradually re-opening closed again.

The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna cancelled political rallies for the next three days and the opposition called for the postponement of the poll which was immediately rejected by the governing party.

The cluster was exposed after an inmate from the Kandakadu Rehabilitation centre who was being transferred from the Welikada Jail was tested for COVID 19.

Testing at the Rehabilitation centre found hundreds of inmates were infected. The authorities then traced down counsellors and other staff who had gone home on leave.

One cluster was found at Nattandiya and the second in Rajangana which are directly connected to Kandakadu.

Also on July 4 family members of the inmates of the Kandakadu and nearby Senapura camps had been allowed a visit after nearly three months.

Officials have traced 414 family members who are now under quarantine. (Colombo, July 13, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana