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Sri Lanka Navy not hiding true situation at Welisara COVID 19 outbreak – Defense Secy

FILE PHOTO – Navy personnel guarding the Kochchikade shrine after the Easter Sunday attacks/Pathum Dhananjana EconomyNext

ECONOMYNEXT – The Ministry of Defence is saying it is not hiding the seriousness of the issue of the number of Navy Personnel infected with COVID 19, as 20 more patients were diagnosed yesterday taking the total number confirmed since the outbreak to 889.

At least nine of the patients reported yesterday are from the Navy.

This also brings the total from the Navy Cluster at the Welisara Navy camp to 478 which is more than half of the total COVID 19 patients in the country.

The Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Maj Gen (Rtd) Kamal Guneratne in a statement posted on its website denied allegations by some media against the “Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) that it refrains from providing information about sailors, who are infected with coronavirus, to health authorities.”

Since the identification of SLN’s first coronavirus-infected Navy officer on April 22 there has been a surge of new patients, mostly from the Welisara Naval Complex. Before the discovery of the Navy cluster the total number of patients was 271.

Guneratne said the Navy and the Armed Forces are “maintaining a strict transparent process of disseminating information on coronavirus infected military personnel and the testing process.”

“While contact tracing is in process, the SLN personnel, who have been identified as coronavirus positives through PCR tests, are being sent to hospitals for treatment,” he added.

He said that from the beginning of the Welisara outbreak “the SLN had taken all required precautionary measures to contain the spread of the virus following the recommendations of Deputy Director-General of Public Health Services Dr Paba Palihawadana, a group of officers including a specialist in infectious diseases from the Ministry of Health Dr  Thilanga Pathirana and an officer from the Regional Directorate of Health of Gampaha, who inspected the Naval Complex.”

“The information on PCR tests done on naval personnel, including all the details of both positive and negative cases, has been duly submitted to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, office of the Director-General of Health Services, Directorates of Health Services in all districts and the Sri Lanka Police by the SLN,” he added.

“The SLN has been following all the necessary communication with the health and other responsible authorities on reporting its situation regarding the coronavirus infected sailors and the testing process,” the Defence Secretary said.

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In all 366 patients have been discharged from hospital after full recovery and 504 infected patients are currently being treated in hospitals. (Colombo May 12, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana