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Sri Lanka hunts fish vendor contacts, 1,000 isolated in pilgrim Coronavirus cluster

CASE COUNT: Sri Lanka reported 6 new cases on April 21 as Vietnam reported the fifth day without a new case. Vietnam has had zero deaths due to a treatment protocol using heart-lung style machines.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s contact tracers are hunting contacts of a fish-vendor flushed out during a month long curfews centered isolated nearly a 1000 linked to a pilgrim who returned from India, while a private hospital had been closed in another case, officials said.

By 0600h on April 21, Sri Lanka had confirmed 310 cases, 102 had recovered and 7 had died. Hospitals were treating 201 cases.

Vietnam, probably the global leader in the fight against Coronavirus, had reported the fifth day with zero new cases.

Vietnam had found 268 patients, 216 had recovered and none had died by April 22. Old patients had been brought back from near death in the country with the use of ECMO machines.

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The fish vendor from Piliyandala was found during flush-out curfews imposed to pounce on cases that contact tracers missed due to delays in quarantining arrivals from third countries that did not quarantine arrivals from China and had uncontrolled community transmission.

The vendor had visited a wholesale fish market, which was initially ordered to be closed.

“We asked that the wholesale fish market be opened today (April 22) so that people would come and we can take swabs to test,” Anil Jasinghe, the head of Sri Lanka’s Health Service told Sri Lanka’s privately owned Derana Television.

Sri Lanka’s military chief said the shops in the wholesale market that the fish vendor had visited had been identified and PCR tests would be done.

About 23 contacts of the fish vendor had been taken to a quarantine centre in Welisara.

It is not clear how the fish vendor got first infected though there had been reports that he had contact with a foreign returnee.

Under Sri Lanka’s current contact tracing regime low cost voluntary testing is banned, which observers say is a serious drawback in discovering asymptomatic persons.

Sri Lanka’s current contact tracing framework is still solely dependent on symptomatic cases turning up.

On April 21, 1,108 persons were taken to quarantine including foreign returnees who came on a rescue flight from Pakistan. The aircraft had students and military officers who had gone for training in Pakistan.

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They were being quarantined at the Army, Navy and Air Force quarantine centres depending on their service.

Nearly 1,000 persons linked to a pilgrim who had returned from India, residing in Bandaranaike Pura in Colombo now been quarantined.

A barber in the area had carried out his business during curfew helping spread the disease to nearby ‘wathu’ or highly congested residential area.

In a 15 perch area over 60 families involving over 200 persons lived in the area, authorities said. A barber in the sector may have helped spread the disease further.

“This barber had cut the hair of people in nearby ‘wathu’, ” Jasinghe said.”This barber was confirmed with Covid-19. Whatever lockdowns we do, it clear that people move here and there to nearby ‘Wathu’.

In Bandaranaike Pura, a 975 people from ‘166 wath-ther’ , 137 wath-ther and 107 wath-ther had been taken to quarantine in Army and Air Force quarantine camps in the North.

Swabs had been taken from several before being taken to the north.

Sri Lanka had also confirmed a patient who visited a private hospital in Kottawa regularly.

Sri Lanka’s military chief Shavendra Silva said the private hospital had been closed and staff and doctors testing samples had been taken.

The results are expected later on April 22. (SB-Colombo/Apr22/2020)

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