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Sri Lanka locks down Navy camp, villages after sailor Coronavirus cluster balloons amid testing gap

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has locked down a Navy camp and home village of a sailor after a surge of infections at a barracks where sailors involved in quarantine work had seen a surge, officials said as a think tank called for voluntary testing of high risk groups.

“We believe the sailors had got infected after they worked in Suduwella to quarantine contacts of a person,’ Sri Lanka’s Army Chief Shavenda Silva told privately owned Derana TV.

“We have isolated the Welisara camp.”

The cluster was discovered a after a sailor who went on leave to Lankapura in Polonnaruwa developed symptoms and reported to a Welikanda hospital.

Authorities had also locked down the sailors home village in Lankapura and isolated his contacts.

Sri Lanka is keeping testing tight and has not allowed voluntary testing of high risk persons.

Authorities had found 29 infected persons so far among companions of the Lankapura sailor of which only two were symptomatic.

The cluster was discovered because the sailor who went home developed symptoms as a Colombo-based think tank called for a relaxation of a current ban on voluntary tests and testing of high risk groups who do not show symptoms including quarantine workers.

That not testing workers involved in quarantine was a gap that had already been indentified in a explainer on that compared Vietnam’s Coronavirus battle with Sri Lanka.

“Nor are quarantine workers or medical workers tested frequently,” the explainer said.

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Read: How Sri Lanka and Vietnam are smashing Coronavirus, and what will happen next

While curfews will limit clusters, once it is lifted, the chance of the disease spreading increases, and random and voluntary testing is vital, the think tank said.

“Voluntary testing, random testing of people in high-risk areas will increase the chance of asymptomatic index cases and members of clusters being discovered,” Advocata Institute said in a statement.

“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.”

Any individual who feel he was at risk by going to a high risk location, waiting in line at a pharmacy or wants to visit an elderly relative may want a voluntary test.

“They should have an opportunity to get a PCR test at his or her own expense, preferably through a drive-through system,” the think tank pointed out.

The so-called Suduwella cluster also flushed out during curfews after a person was admitted to hospital following an incident.

Sri Lanka’s Coronavirus cases surged to 368 by 2120hours on April 23 according to health ministry data.

An infected fish-monger was also flushed out in Piliyandala during curfew.

Authorities carried out random tests in a fish market on April 23.

Head of Sri Lanka’s Health Service Anil Jasinghe said they were negative.

“This is a relief,” he said.

It is not clear whether the workers in the fish market would be be tested again or whether they will be isolated.

A contact can develop the disease up to 14 days or more later.

In Vietnam, the global leader in fighting Coronavirus the entire fish market would have been quarantine for two weeks and each person tested at least twice, those familiar with the process in Vietnam say.

Vietnam locked down and tested entire neighourhoods, villages and small towns painstakingly paying people a per diem

On April 23, Prime Minister said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said, except for some districts of Hanoi, Ha Giang and Bac Ninh people in other districts could go out and engage in normal activities subject to wearing masks and exercising car.

In Ha Giang a Hmong tribal girl got the disease after her brother had returned from China walking over the border. The brother was negative but she was positive.

Authorities locked down the village and nearby villages and are paying everyone a per diem.

The ending of ‘social isolation’ (read stay at home) did not end social distancing, the health ministry said. (Colombo/Apr24/2020)

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