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Sri Lanka police warns of “hidden” COVID-19 cases, requests limited lifting of curfew

Sri Lankan police women wearing a facemask as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus take part in a rehearsal parade in Colombo on March 18, 2020. LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP

ECONOMYNEXT – There may be more true, unconfirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka than the official count indicates as there is a “hidden community” of carriers that are reluctant to come forward, DIG Ajith Rohana said.

Speaking at yesterday’s party leaders’ meeting, Rohan said as is the case with AIDS, patients and their families are hesitant to reveal their symptoms and in some cases actively try to hide their condition.

Health officials at the discussion recommended releasing a video making an open appeal to such patients to come forward.

Rohana also called for a limited lifting of the curfew now imposed to contain the novel coronavirus.

“Epidemiologists have suggested more practical ways of lifting curfew in small police divisions rather than entire districts,” he said

Instead of lifting the curfew in an entire district at once, he said, the possibility of lifting it in select police divisions at a time while surrounding police divisions remain blocked must be explored. Not doing so might result in a ability to control the situation, he warned.

Territorial blockage has also been recommended, the DIG said, so that people in curfew lifted areas are unable to travel to the other areas.

Rohana called for an immediate decision on the matter with consultation with the president before things get out of control the way they did in Italy.

He further said a mechanism must be introduced at least at Grama Niladhari divisions to provide essentials including medicine  to low-income families who earn daily wages while the curfew is in effect for more than two to three days. (Colombo/Mar25/2020)

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