ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has found 582 Coronavirus patients on October 29, the health ministry said as a cluster from a fish market in the capital continued to rip through the capital and the rest of the island.
Of that 115 was found from people already in quarantine centres and 467 from the community where contacts and targeted samples are taken.
With foreign returnees the total on October 29 was 586, taking Sri Lanka’s total so far this year to 9,791.
Sri Lanka’s Chief Epidemiologist Sudath Samaraweera told reporters large numbers of persons were being confirmed from several flats in Colombo, despite the areas being under curfew with residents moving in between units.
Sri Lanka has conducted over 11,000 tests on October 29, the Health Promotion Bureau of the Ministry of Health said.
Deputy Director of Health Hemanthe Herath said health officials were gradually clearing a backlog of samples which piled up due a high capacity PCR machine breaking down.
The daily capacity of 9,000 that the health system mentioned was without the machine, he said.
A foreign technician was due to arrive to fix it, Sri Lanka’s anti-Covid chief General Shavendra Silva had said.
The cluster was found at a factory in Minuwangoda, after a symptomatic patient was randomly tested at Gampaha hospital.
Sri Lanka Board of Investment companies are now doing their own tests, in policy measures long before advised but not carried out.
Advocata Institute, a Colombo based think tank had earlier called for Sri Lanka to sample test key areas and also relax controls on private testing and allow companies to conduct their own tests and negotiate bulk discounts.
“Once curfew is lifted, the front office staff of any institution including airports, quarantine workers, cleaning staff, people working in economic centres, and drivers may be exposed to higher risks,” the think tank said.
“Those in driving/delivery related jobs in particular would also be in a position to spread the disease faster and to a greater area.
“Opportunities should be provided for companies to negotiate bulk discounts and multiple validated testing points should be allowed,” the tank said in April 2020.
“To reduce the cost on the government, opportunities should be provided for voluntary testing and testing at the cost of the employer; especially for front office staff and sample testing of factory workers.
“The longer the delay in discovering the index patient, the higher the chance that the disease has spread to multiple levels. Each level expands exponentially, therefore time is of the essence.”
Sr Lanka is now moving away from institutionalized quarantine to home quarantine.
Where people work in high concentration including construction sites are at risk observers say.
Home quarantine increases the risk of families members, especially older members such as parents or grand parents, contracting Coronavirus even if tracers get to F1 contacts before their incubation period is over, observers who have studied practices in East Asia say.