Sri Lanka new Coronavirus cluster tops 100; Gampaha residents urged to stay home
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has so far confirmed 101 persons from a Coronavirus cluster being traced out of an apparel factory in Minuwangoda and authorities are asking people in the densely populated Gampaha district, north of the capital Colombo, to stay home as contacts are traced.
Confirmed Covid-19 cases have so far come from Kurunegala and Jaffna some from workers who have gone on sick leave.
By late night on October 05 authorities have confirmed 101 persons from Minuwangoda, Katana, Seeduwa, Divulapitiya, Ja-Ela, Mahara and also Mirigama, Kurunegala and Jaffna as workers on leave from a Brandix apparel factory were tested.
“We are still in the early stages of identifying infections,” Sri Lanka’s Chief Epidemiologist Sudath Samaraweera told reporters earlier on October 05.
“We especially asking resident of Gampaha district to limit travel. Stay at home. We have so far put curfew in three police areas. But we are asking residents of other areas to also limit movement.”
“Especially if someone has a cough of fever please get medical treatment. From the action we are taking we can control the cluster and contain the spread of the disease.”
But Gampaha is one of the most densely populated areas in Sri Lanka, which is a concern for authorities, Samaraweera said.
Samaraweera said contacts of the confirmed persons on October 05 are being traced.
“We will have to quarantine and PCR test them as well,” he said. “Then we can see how widespread the cluster is.”
He urged anyone who had visited the Brandix factory to stay at home and inform public health officials of their connection to the factory.
“Then health officials will decide whether the person should be tested or quarantined,” he said.
No Index Case
The cluster around the Brandix factory in Minuwangoda was found as a worker who was treated at Gampaha hospital was randomly tested under a procedure used in state hospital under a protocol followed by health authorities in Sri Lanka.
“We found this cluster due to the net we had cast,” Samaraweera explained. That is a good development.
However the index case of the cluster is still not known indicating that there would be other infected persons in the community from whom the disease came to the factory in the first place.
“We do not still know how the Covid-19 came to the factory,” Samaraweera said. “We are still investigating it. Therefore there is a risk of the disease spreading in the community. ”
Samaraweera said there was no evidence to say there is community transmission yet, which was a situations where unconnected infected persons were turning up from different locations.
“We cannot say from the evidence have now that there is such a situation,” he said. “Whether it is spreading in the community will be decided by future PCR and the co-operation given by the public.”
Meanwhile workers who had gone on leave could also take the disease to other districts.
“There was a long weekend last week so some workers had gone home,” Samaraweera explained. “So there may be more infections in their homes.”
Sri Lanka had confirmed 3,513 Covid-19 cases so far with 13 deaths. As of October 241 were being treated in hospital, Health Ministry data showed.
Sri Lanka has a well-oiled contact tracing and quarantine process in place which had earlier controlled several clusters.
Sri Lanka has also removed restrictions on conducting PCR tests set by doctors in the early stages of the epidemic, as well as an inexplicable ban on private testing, substantially reducing the risks of spreading the disease now, analysts say.
Sri Lanka is one of the few countries that had controlled the spread of the disease along with Vietnam.
Vietnam also saw new cluster expanding out of Da Nang, a tourism hotspot in August, with over 600 cases being found and 35 persons dying ending the country’s zero death record before it was stamped out.
Some of the deaths came from an infected intensive care unit, where the cluster was discovered. When patients turn up in intensive care a cluster would already have a few hundred infected persons.
The cluster was controlled without a general lockdown, but with a lockdown of Da Nang city.
Vietnam controlled the spread of the disease up to May 2020 with surgical lockdowns in of infected clusters, avoiding general strict lockdown curfews but with ‘social isolation’ (stay at home), avoiding non-essential movement and school closures backed up by aggressive tracing, testing and quarantine.