With three new deaths today, Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 death toll rises to 157

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka reported three COVID-19 deaths today, bringing the country’s pandemic death toll to 157. The island nation has been battling a second wave of the novel coronavirus since October, recording 144 deaths in the last two months alone, official data shows.

According to the National Operation Centre for the Prevention of COVID-19 (NOCPOC), a task force comprising military and health ministry officials, Sri Lanka’s total cases since the onset of the pandemic in March has now surged past 34,000. A sharp rise in the number was observed since the second wave emerged two months ago, creating twin clusters in its wake centred around an apparel factory in Minuwangoda and a fish market in Peliyagoda.

Health authorities found 643 new COVID-19 patients over a 24-hour period that ended at 6am today (16), NOCPOC said in its daily update this morning. Of the new cases, 622 are from local clusters, while 19 are reportedly returnees from abroad. Two foreign seafarers were also among the cases identified.

The Public Health Inspectors (PHI) Union warned today that a sudden spike in cases may be seen at the end of the December festive season. PHI Union President Upul Rohana called for travel restrictions to be imposed across districts ahead of the coming season, the Daily Mirror reported this morning. There was no need for a lockdown at the moment, Rohana further said, adding however that movement to high-risk areas must be curtailed.

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: 309 from Colombo, 119 from Kalutara, and 104 from Gampaha.

Sri Lanka’s total COVID-19 cases since March is now at 34,121, with 9,100 active cases and 709 currently under investigation in hospitals.

In the second, Colombo district records the highest number of new cases from the new clusters, at 14,857. Only 16 cases have been found in the Mannar district.

As at 6am today, 558 Sri Lankan patients returned home upon recovery, bringing total recoveries in Sri Lanka to 24,867.

The number of patients reported from the Minuwangoda and Peliyagoda clusters has increased to 30,455, with the new positive cases identified. A total of 21,459 patients from the two clusters have recovered by December 16, NOCPOC said.

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The number of people in quarantine in 79 centres run by the armed forces is 7,901.

By this morning, 181 returnees arrived in Colombo. All returnees will be directed to military-run quarantine centres, NOCPOC said.

A total of 1,042,318 PCR tests have been conducted in the island so far, with 9,606 tests carried out yesterday, NOCPOC reports said. (Colombo/Dec16/2020)

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