ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka reported three new COVID-19 deaths today, bringing the country’s pandemic death toll to 160. Health authorities found 616 new cases over a 24-hour period that ended at 6am today, bringing total cases in the island to 34,737, the official COVID-19 task force said.
With the rise in cases, plans are underway to take over more government hospitals and convert them to novel coronavirus treatment centres as confirmed infections continue to outpace recoveries, the ministry of health said.
A sharp rise in Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 cases was observed since the emergence of a second wave two months ago, creating twin clusters in its wake centred around an apparel factory in Minuwangoda and a fish market in Peliyagoda.
Of the new cases over the past 24 hours, 611 are from local clusters, while five are returnees from abroad, NOCPOC said.
Sri Lanka plans to reopen the Bandaranaike International Airport for charter and commercial flights on December 26, according to the aviation regulator. Health Services Director General Dr Asela Gunawardana told reporters today that arrivals to the country will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a military-run facility upon arrival, after which they will be required to undergo a further 14 days of self-quarantine. Some 65,000 Sri Lankans are estimated to return to the island in the coming days, according to NOCPOC.
A majority of the new daily cases as at 6am today were from the Western Province: 266 from Colombo, 94 from Kalutara, and 48 from Gampaha; while 99 patients were identified from Kandy district.
As of today, there are 8,925 active cases with 499 currently under investigation in hospitals, officials said.
Colombo district records the highest number of new cases from the new clusters, at 15,123. Only 16 cases have been found in the Mannar district.
As at 6am today, 785 Sri Lankan patients returned home upon recovery, bringing total recoveries in Sri Lanka to 25,652.
The number of patients reported from the Minuwangoda and Peliyagoda clusters has increased to 31,066, with the new positive cases identified. A total of 22,244 patients from the two clusters have recovered by December 16, NOCPOC said.
The number of people in quarantine in 81 centres run by the armed forces is 8,012.
By this morning, 42 returnees arrived in Colombo and 60 more are expected to return today. All returnees will be directed to military-run quarantine centres, NOCPOC said.
Meanwhile, Army Commander Lt Gen Shavendra Silva who also heads the COVID-19 taks force said parts of Akkaraipattu, Addalaichenai and Alayadivembu will be isolated with immediate effect from today until further notice.
A total of 1,042,318 PCR tests have been conducted in the island so far, with 15,237 tests carried out yesterday, NOCPOC reports said. (Colombo/Dec17/2020)