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Sri Lanka to stop quarantining first Coronavirus contacts at centres as new cases rise

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will halt institutional quarantine of first contacts of confirmed Coroanvirus patients but ask them to home quarantine and hope that they will not infect neighbhours, the island’s anti-Coronavirus task force chief General Shavendra Silva said as new cases and contacts rose rapidly.

The new process had received approval from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, he said.

“Until today all first contacts of a confirmed patient was taken to a quarantine centre,” General Silva said.

“But in the future, the first contacts will be home quarantined. When home quarantining we hope that they will stay at home and engage in quarantine. We expect they will not go out, and be a threat to their neighbhours or society.”

“We appeal to everyone to stay at home and engage in quarantine.”

Sri Lanka has seen a rapid increase in the numbers of infected persons from the Peliyagoda fish market.

As result contacts are also rising rapidly, faster than new quarantine centres can be built.

Out of 280 confirmed patients in Sri Lanka on October 26, 15 were from contacts in quarantine centres.

The balance was from the community. Each usually has multiple contacts.

The new procedure is a radical departure from the process followed by the most successful countries like Vietnam which has completely killed the epidemic in the first half of 2020 and had only one outbreak in July-August 2020, which was also killed.





But Sri Lanka’s Public Health Inspectors Union said they are working hard to trace but first and second contacts have already developed the disease in some cases and the numbers were getting too large to cope.

“Some areas in the Colombo municipal areas and in the Western province are almost moving out of the control of our control,” President of Sri Lanka’s Public Health Inspectors Union said.

“The health and intelligence services are engaging a massive effort to keep control. We had to work till 2 am to find contacts. So we cannot work today.”

In the first week of October hundreds of first contacts from the Brandix Minuwangoda factory went missing after they were told to go home and wait for results to come. Eventually over 1,000 persons tested positive initially and later at quarantine centres.

But other countries like Korea which have less tight processes have outbreaks on a continuous basis.

South Korea reported 119 cases on October 26 while Vietnam had 01 foreign arrival. South Korea however has wide access for voluntary testing. Up to 2.5 million tests have been done so far.

In Sri Lanka testing is tightly controlled.

South Korea which has a population of 51 million and is an OECD country has had reported 25,955 cases and 457 deaths.

Korea has extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy to supply oxygen directly to the blood for patients whose lungs are too damaged to for mechanical ventilators to help and continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) a type of permanent dialysis when kidneys fail.

Vietnam, which has a population of 97 million has reported 1,161 cases up to October 26 and 35 deaths, all in the July – August outbreak, which has now been stamped out.

Home quarantine increases the likelihood that all family members of contacts who had not initially developed the disease, including older people are infected and have to be hospitalized.

Sri Lanka’s Government Medical Officers Association is calling for two levels of treatment. For younger patients without underlying diseases treatment centres overseen by a doctor and hospital care for more serious cases. (Colombo/Oct29/2020)

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