Sri Lanka finds 335 Coronavirus cases in traced contacts and targeted Covid-19 sampling

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has found 335 new Coronavirus cases on October 28 taking the total in new clusters to 5,731, health ministry data showed as authorities continued to trace contacts and do targeted sample tests and new curfews.

“The number of new cases in Gampaha is starting to fall,” Deputy Director of Health Hemanthe Herath told reporters.

“We are doing targeted sampling in high risk areas in the Western province and also contacts we have traced. So we cannot say in advance from which other areas we will find new cases.”

Sri Lanka’s new clusters were first found in a factory in Minuwangoda but the infection of a fish market in Peliyagoda, where large numbers of traders, buyers from restaurants and individual customers buy each day led to a wide spread of the disease.

Several clusters have developed from the fish-market in Kuliyapitiya, Moratuwa, Galle, Beruwala and Hatton around fishery harbhours and fish markets.

Sri Lanka has placed the entire Gampaha district under Coronavirus curfew and large parts of the Colombo district is also under curfews.

Sri Lanka’s anti-Covid chief General Shavenda Silva has asked residents of Colombo in particular not to move out of the district.

He said in Gampaha northern areas numbers are falling but there are still high numbers lower down, and there is a delay in test results.

On October 27, Sri Lanka had conducted 8,831 Coronavirus tests and 457 cases were found Deputy Health Director in charge of Laboratory Services Ananda Jayalal said.

Sri Lanka’s new clusters were first found in a factory in Minuwangoda but the infection of a fish market in Peliyagoda, where large numbers of traders, buyers from restaurants and individual customers buy each day led to a wide spread of the disease.

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“The number of new cases in Gampaha is starting to fall,” Deputy Director of Health Hemanthe Herath told reporters.

“We are doing targeted sampling in high risk areas in the Western province and also contacts we have traced. So we cannot say in advance from which other areas we will find new cases.”

Sri Lanka has placed the entire Gampaha district under Coronavirus curfew and large parts of the Colombo district is also under curfews.

Sri Lanka’s anti-Covid chief General Shavendra Silva has asked residents of Colombo in particular not to move out of the district.

He said hotels in Ella and other areas, are being asked not to take bookings from the Western province.

Sri Lanka has seen two to three days delay in getting test results, the Public Health Inspectors Union Upul Rohana said.

Sri Lanka is placing the entire Western province under curfew from tonight.

Deputy Inspector General Ajith Rohana said some restrictions had been place on people moving out of the district from Thursday.

Sri Lanka gave up on institutionalized quarantine of first contacts this week, in a departure from practices followed in countries like Vietnam and Cambodia which kills outbreaks to zero.

Institutionalized quarantine reduce the total infections in a household where usually the most active younger persons get infected, or are infected and are going through the incubation period, reducing pressure on health services, observers say.

Vietnam which has mandatory F1 quarantine has seen 35 deaths while Korea which has home quarantine has seen over 400 deaths.

Korea also has extra corporeal membrane oxygenation and continuous renal replacement therapy to keep serious cases with complications alive.

Sri Lanka’s doctors have in the past resisted conducting tests outside of a hospital setting, resisted testing without an ‘indication’ claiming that the PCR test was a diagnostic and not a screening test, when Vietnam threw definitions aside and did random tests in the community and multiple tests in quarantine.

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However lapses can be covered up with a curfew.

Sri Lanka has in the past resisted testing inside quarantine centres and also resisted the use of rapid antigen (blood) tests, critics have pointed out.

Rapid antigen tests are particularly useful for contact tracers to catch up, if a cluster is older and f1 and f2 contacts are both infected.

Researchers in Vietnam have said that on average there is a six day window to prevent infections from one level from moving to another.

The practice in Vietnam is to conduct two tests on F1 contacts 24hours apart as soon as they are found, and then do at least two other tests inside quarantine to pluck out any persons who gets infected during the incubation period, reducing risks to both quarantine staff and other inmates.

Vietnam also tests persons after a two week home quarantine before issuing a certificate and after release from hospital.

Vietnam is the first country in the world to kill the spread of SARS and also killed the first wave from Wuhan, the second wave from European nations and in July and August a third wave from suspected illegal migrants from China. (Colombo/Oct29/2020)

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