Sri Lanka epidemiological sleuths probing foreign Covid-19 link to new Coronavirus cluster

EPIDEMIOLOGICAL DETECTIVES: A positive PCR test can confirm the presence of current infection (though a negative one does not not eliminate it) and the information can used to isolate contacts and stop future infections. An antigen test helps epidemiologists follow a trail backwards by checking people who have recovered.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s epidemiological sleuths are probing a possible foreign link to a new Coronavirus cluster that developed at an apparel factory that had expanded to over 2000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, the head of the island’s anti-Covid-19 task force has said.

“We have investigated the origin of the Minuwangoda cluster through several facets,” General Silva told Sri Lanka’s privately owned Derana Television.

“It is now at a stage involving some foreign arrivals. We will be able to know for sure in the future.

“You know people come from abroad, they stay at hotels, sometimes there could be lapses (athapasu weem) there.

“So there are situations like that. If that is confirmed we will let the nation know.”

General Silva had said earlier that investigators had narrowed down about 10 persons at the Brandix Minuwangoda factory who had fallen sick from around September 23 based on factory records.

There was also a possible early case around September 15 and epidemiological detectives are chasing after each of the possibilities and had also investigated a link to a prison but had drawn a blank he said.

To find whether they had early infections and recovered, antigen tests were conducted he said.

All of the 2000 plus cases discovered were linked to the Minuwangoda Brandix factory he said.

General Silva said Saturday that the last confirmed cases from the community had come in April.

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The last case from the Kandakadu rehabilitation centre cluster was in August. The last ones were found in Polonnaruwa area, he explained.

He said that was one reason to focus on a foreign link.

He said foreign returnees under military quarantine went through the quarantine. In Sri Lanka after a two week quarantined returnees are now tested and released unlike earlier and are told to remain in home quarantine for two week and not have visitors.

General Silva said seafarers and sea Marshalls also came back. Some came and went on other ships and there were also foreigners, he said.

“So we are looking into that,” he said Saturday.

Officials had said the spike in cases is also a single cluster so far. Though the cluster is large, there is no community transmission in Sri Lanka health authorities say.

Sri Lanka confirmed 63 cases in the cluster on Sunday taking the total to 2075.

Sri Lanka had so far confirmed 5,538 cases, with 13 deaths in the total epidemic which is one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.

The patients in the new cluster were asymptomatic with generally mild symptoms. Mortality rates in several Asian and African nations, where tropical diseases are rife had been lower than some Western nations.

Sri Lanka, along with Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia and Bhutan started home quarantine or isolation of returnees from China from January 2020 after gradually restricting arrivals from Wuhan at a time when the World Health Organization was advising against restricting travel.

The second wave of European returnees came around March, from Western and Asian nations that had not restricted travel from China and re-exported their own citizens following community transmission. (Colombo/Oct19/2020)

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