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Sri Lanka may re-evaluate school opening date after Coronavirus cluster triggers surge

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka may re-evaluate school re-opening, a top official said after the discovery of a new cluster after long delay leading to a surge of new confirmed cases in a new cluster under country’s passive strategy of waiting for index cases to turn up in hospital.

Sri Lanka said schools would be opened on May 11, universities from May 04. However 15 new cases were found from a cluster where a patient turned.

“Everything will depend on our behavior,” Sri Lanka’s Army Chief Shavendra Silva told privately-owned Derana television on April 20.

“We have to maintain social distance and act as the next person has the virus. We have given the dates for schools but it may be too early to be final about it. Depending on how the disease spreads the government will give specific information.

“The government has given dates for people to plan. If dates are suddenly given, it will not allow time to plan.

“Depending on the situation today and next week the government may give a final word on schools.”

While curfew was lifted in the daytime in many districts not regarded as high risk on April 20, Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo continues to be under curfew until April 22 and several police areas including Kotahena were a large new cluster has been found will continue to be under lockdown.

“In Colombo, on April 23 only managers are expected to come to office to develop plans on how to open not for all workers,” General Silva said.

“They have to individually inform specific employees to come after indentifying which employees are needed. If they do not tell, everyone will come. Operations are expected to start on April 27 with one third of the people.

The surge of new case on April 19 came from a 59-year old woman who came back from an Indian tour on March 12 (before quarantine started on March 19) and came to hospital on April 15 under Sri Lanka’s passive strategy of finding index cases by waiting for symptomatic cases to turn up in hospital.





Sri Lanka had imposed curfews to catch anyone who turned up with symptoms who either came to the country before March 19, when all arrivals were quarantined or any contacts of confirmed cases who were missed by contact tracers.

Sri Lanka’s epidemiological sleuths are among the most aggressive in the world, but there were delays in chasing fellow passengers and there is also no random testing to find any asymptomatic cases.

She had been sitting next to a person who had a cough and requested a change of seat. On March 27 a cough had been noticed, around the time the 14 day incubation period ended but because she was an asthma patient it was not particularly taken note of.

On April 19, total cases went up to 271.

Her condition had worsened in the second week of April and she was admitted to hospital on April 15, General Silva said.

On April 17, her husband and two sons were confirmed. On April 19 six neighbours were confirmed.

By late night on on April 19, 10 new cases were confirmed from next door. Another 06 were relatives and neighbours who lived nearby. They had no symptoms.

Another person confirmed on April 19 was a friend of the lady’s husband, General Silva said.

The area is now under lockdown and will be after curfew in Colombo is relaxed during daytime on April 23.

The final person was a friend of Patient number 120, who was found in Negombo and died, who was in quarantine in Batticaloa, Kandakadu centre, general Silva said.

Earlier in the week another surge of cases came from the so-called Sudwella cluster where a person who was linked to drug addicts was found and his contacts traced. (Colombo/Apr20/2020)

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