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Sri Lanka isolates Western Province amid Covid-19 warnings on Colombo, Coronavirus deaths rise to 46

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s has barred travel out the Western Province till November 15 as daily Coronavirus cases hit 635 and Covid-19 deaths rose by another 5 to 46, amid fresh warnings from a doctor’s group that up to five percent of Colombo residents could be infected.

Sri Lanka’s anti-Covid-19 task force said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa barred travel out of the Western province till November 15 over weekend.

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Colombo Transmission

The 635 new cases confirmed on November 11, was 10 coming from foreign returnees.

It is the the third highest daily total found after positive results in the second day of testing in a factory in Minuwangoda and the second day’s tests at the Peliyagoda fish-market.

Sri Lanka’s Government Medical Officer’s Association warned that the prevalence of Coronavirus in Colombo was high and random tests were required in other areas to find the correct level of the disease.

“Out of about 400 tests randomly carried out in Colombo Municipality area – these are not high risk groups, basically random people moving around – 19 were positive,” Government Medical Officer’s Association editor Haritha Aluthge told reporters.

“What it means is that we can estimate that roughly about 5 percent of the people in the Colombo Municipality area are infected with Covid 19.”

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“If we do not take the correct steps we will have to talk more about deaths than infected persons in December.”

Sri Lanka has already placed parts of Colombo are under strict isolation and Gampaha is under strict curfews. Authorities say numbers in Gampaha are going down.

Community Transmission

The GMOA warning comes as authorities still insist that there is no community transmission.

The World Health Organization says community transmission starts in cities and spreads, though it is not classified as a separate stage.

“Cities are often national and international epicentres in the COVID-19 pandemic,” the World Health Organization says.

“Cities act as centres of community transmission, as well as entry points into further country-wide transmission through national and international travel and trade. They also often serve as points for health-care surge.”

The GMOA called for inter-district travel restrictions last month, while locking down smaller areas.

Sri Lanka found the first confirmed case of the current cluster in Gampaha on October 03, but has been trying to contain the disease with lockdowns of small areas.

Authorities initially insisted that all contacts came from the Minuwangoda cluster though later it turned out that many infected persons were coming from a fish market cluster.

As early as October 10, a fisherman in a multi-day boat was found infected. The fish-market cluster was found around October 20 and authorities then put curfew in nearby areas, which are still isolated.

East Asia City Battles

There was community transmission in Wuhan, China, and authorities contained it by locking down the city and tracing people who went on holiday for Chinese New Year out of the city.

Vietnam which is far ahead in battling Coronavirus than Korea, contained an outbreak in Da Nang city, a holiday hotspot, which started in July 26, by placing movement restrictions at the perimeter.

Authorities gave two days for holiday makers estimated at over 30,000 leave the city, then stopped flights, buses and rail.

Everyone who went out was asked to self-isolate and register with respective regional authorities. In March Sri Lanka also asked everyone who came from abroad to register and self-isolate and broght outbreak under control.

Vietnam does not have strict curfews like Sri Lanka, but used inter district movement controls, social distancing, masks and ‘social isolation’ – a stay at home request where people are asked to shop only once a week and avoid travel.

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Vietnam authorities also do not blame the public for not being careful. Controls were relaxed social distancing was lifted after outbreaks were brought to zero and re-imposed immediately after the first case was found in the July outbreak.

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Many successful nations also have different levels of controls so that the population is not wearied.

Vietnam brought the January 2020 outbreak from Wuhan to zero; the February to April outbreak to zero backed by institutional quarantine of first (F1) contacts, in contrast to Korea, a country which report new deaths every day.

Over 467 deaths including 2 on November 11 has been reported in South Korea with over 27,000 cases compared to 35 deaths in Vietnam in July-August and a total cases of 1,254 including foreign arrivals.

There was a gap of over 100 since the July outbreak. There have been no domestic cases or deaths since.

Vietnam economy is estimated to grow 1.2 percent in 2020 by the International Monetary Fund.

Vietnam also has probably has the most advanced testing protocols involving two tests 24 hours apart on F1 contacts, and two other tests during the incubation period and a test after release from quarantine.

Rising Deaths

Meanwhile Sri Lanka has appointed a committee to review rising deaths with many dying at home.

Whether tests were conducted on family members to find whether they were infected is not known.

“The director general of health services decided to appoint a committee to review these deaths and report whether these deaths occurred due to Covid 19 or due to other diseases which worsened with Covid 19 virus,” chief epidemiologist Sudath Samaraweera told reporters.

“Or whether it is due to a delay from the patients’ side or the health services side and what are the steps we can take to prevent this situation in the future.”

On November 11, five new deaths were reported.

An 80-year old from Panadura, South of Colombo had died on admission to Police hospital, becoming the 42 death. He was found to have had a heart attack and a Covid-19 infection at post-mortem, the state information office said.

A 40-year old had died on admission to the Colombo National Hospital. He was determined to have been died of a heart attack related to Covid-19.

A 45-year old from Kelaniya who was being treated at District Hospital in Hambantota from November 01, 2020 for Coronavirus had died of a heart attack.

A 68-year old female had died at home in Maligawatte, Colombo 10. She was determined to have high blood pressure and a heart attack due to Covid-19.

A 63-year old from Imbulgoda, had died while being treated at Apeksha Hospital in Maharagama. A PCR test at post-mortem had confirmed that he was infected with Covid-19. Worsening leukemia and respiratory complications were determined to be the cause of death.

All Colombo prisons are closed for two weeks, reports said, staff are not allowed to go home.

Sri Lanka has also hiked bus fares, which is a sustainable solution to carrying a lower number of passengers. (Colombo/Nov12/2020)

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