Sri Lanka COVID19: Welikada Prison hospital inmates test negative as officials scramble to trace infected prisoner’s contacts

ECONOMYNEXT – Tests for COVID 19 on 170 inmates of the Welikada Prison hospital have returned negative, officials said today.

The tests were done on the inmates in the infirmary after a recently transferred inmate tested positive for the Coronavirus.

‘The inmate was transferred to the Welikada remand prison on June 27, from a drug rehabilitation centre in Kandakadu,’ the state information office said quoting the head of Sri Lanka’s Health Service, Dr Anil Jasinghe.

Col (Media) Vijitha Hettiarachchi who speaks for the National Task Force for the Prevention of COVID 19 said that tests are also being conducted at the Army-run Kandakadu Quarantine Centre.

Kandakadu houses some persons arrested on various drug-related offences as well as several returnee migrant workers, he told EconomyNext.

It is not yet clear whether the inmate tested positive for an anti-body test or a regular PCR test, he added.

In case it was an anti-body test then it would mean the man would have had the disease and recovered.

The infected inmate has had his case heard via the internet, Hettiarachchi said.

Sri Lanka has contained the spread of Coroanvirus through aggressive contact tracing and quarantine, though there had been a reluctance to test contacts and quarantine inmates.

Sri Lanka had confirmed 2,077 Coronavirus patients up to July 06, with about half of them coming from a Navy base.

All cases since April 30 until July 06 had come from the Navy cluster or foreign returnees in quarantine, the health ministry said.

Sri Lanka has seen spikes in Covid-19 cases partly due to weaknesses in the testing regime in the past including a Navy base.

(Colombo/July 08/2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana