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Sri Lanka to ramp up COVID 19 testing, cases rise to 567

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will ramp up PCR testing for COVID 19 up to 3,000 persons per day as the total number of patients confirmed with the disease rose to 567 today, officials said.

The largest number of patients found in a single cluster is from the Welisara Sri Lanka Navy camp which has risen to 180 today, Army Commander Lt Gen Shavindra Silva said.

The total number of new patients found today is 44 and all of them are from the Navy camp at Welisara.

He said 112 were detected in the camp and 68 are Navy men who had gone home on holiday.

The curfew which was island-wide to enable servicemen to return to their camps from leave will be lifted tomorrow morning.

“We expect all these servicemen to report to their respective camps tonight,” he said.

The Director-General of Health Services said that the department was bringing on-line a number of laboratories for PCR testing.

A new laboratory was being opened at Batticoloa tomorrow, he said.

University labs at the Peradeniya, Colombo and Kelaniya universities were to begin PCR testing and with these facilities, the number of tests that can be done every day will be around 2,000.

He said a new lab being built at Mulleriyawa with Asian Development Bank aid will have a capacity of doing a thousand PCR tests a day.

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“With that our capacity will rise to 3,000 tests a day,” Jasinghe said.

The Government Laboratory Technologists Association in an open letter to Jasinghe sent over the weekend had suggested that the university labs be brought on-line.

The Association had also suggested that the existing lab staff be asked to work around the clock and with that, the testing capacity could have been raised to nearly 3,000 a day without the Mulleriyawa lab being built.

Jasinghe also said that a COVID 19 positive case had been detected at an underserved area in Dabare Mawatha in Colombo. A hundred random tests had been done in the area and all had come out negative he said.(Colombo April 27, 2020)