- Total recoveries reach 584
- One person tests positive, bringing total to 1,028
- Steps taken to contain spread of COVID-19 among Navy personnel
- Health authorities concerned about dengue outbreak
- Over 60,000 persons arrested for violating curfew
By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
Fifteen persons recovered from COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the total recoveries in the country to 584.
The new recoveries include seven who were receiving treatment at the Navy Hospital, six at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), and two at the Welikanda Base Hospital.
The Epidemiology Unit states that 435 patients continue to receive treatment, including 156 at the Navy Hospital, 90 at the NIID, 56 at the Colombo East Base Hospital, 48 at the Minuwangoda Base Hospital, and 37 at the Welikanda Base Hospital.
A further 28 patients are at the Kattankudy Base Hospital, 14 at the Homagama Base Hospital, and five at the Iranawila Hospital.
A total of 112 suspect patients are also under investigation at several hospitals, including 41 at the Navy Hospital.
With 35 new COVID-19 patients identified in the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. yesterday, along with the new patient identified late yesterday who was among those that returned from Kuwait, the total count of confirmed cases in the country has risen to 1,028 and 719 of these were identified since 22 April. Of these cases, 621 are Navy personnel and their close contacts.With the growing number of COVID-19 cases among the Sri Lanka Navy, health authorities have taken steps to monitor the situation and Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe said four epidemiologists have been appointed to do so. “I made recommendations to the Sri Lanka Navy based on their investigations and these recommendations are to be implemented strictly,” he said.
He added that the recommendations include travel restrictions and taking into account where Naval officers are on duty. Dr. Jasinghe explained that the appointed epidemiologists will be monitoring the camps to ensure the recommendations are implemented. He added: “We hope the health units of the Sri Lanka Navy will strictly implement these because close to 600 Navy personnel have tested positive for COVID-19 and there is a need to control the spread of the virus.”
The Health Services Director General explained that cases have not been identified in the community for 20 days and all new patients were identified among Navy personnel and those at quarantine centres.
According to the Epidemiology Unit, 585 Navy personnel have tested positive, in addition to 68 persons among local communities at quarantine centres and 49 among overseas arrivals at quarantine centres.
In order to contain the community spread of COVID-19, the health sector has issued guidelines regularly and Dr. Jasinghe said these will be legalised in the future. He added that a public awareness program will also be launched soon, saying: “We want to continue these social distancing, respiratory etiquette, and hand hygiene practices. These will not be limited to the next month or two or six and not following these can lead to another outbreak.”
Explaining that the spread of COVID-19 had a lot to do with an individual’s lifestyle and their interactions with others, Dr. Jasinghe said dengue too was dependant on lifestyles and how people treat their surroundings.
While dengue cases for the last three months have been low in comparison to the same period last year, Dr. Jasinghe warned that there may be an increase in cases due to the onset of the rainy season.
According to data published by the Epidemiology Unit, 2,501 dengue cases have been reported since March this year while 11,062 cases were reported between March and May last year. Despite these relatively low figures, Dr. Jasinghe said: “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also at risk of another illness, which is dengue.”
He added that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, focus may not have been drawn to dengue but that prevention programs will be strengthened going forward. These measures are especially important as fever is a symptom of both dengue and COVID-19 and this may hinder measures takes to contain the spread of the latter.
Efforts to quarantine overseas arrivals as well as close contacts of infected persons continue and Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva said 3,519 persons are currently under observation at the various quarantine centres in the country.
He added that a total of 10,103 persons have completed the quarantine process at these centres so far and 230 persons left for their homes yesterday.The Defence Ministry website stated that a flight carrying 179 persons from Kuwait landed in Sri Lanka at 1 a.m. yesterday and another carrying 287 persons from Kuwait landed in the country on Tuesday.
Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva said more flights have been scheduled for the next few days, especially from Russia and neighbouring countries.
The Defence Ministry also stated on their website that over 60,000 persons have been arrested over curfew violations, including 660 persons arrested during the 12-hour period ending at 6 a.m. yesterday.
“According to Police, 60,425 individuals and 16,924 vehicles have also been taken into custody so far,” the website stated, adding: “Sri Lanka Police has warned of strict legal action against people caught violating the curfew.”
In addition to these efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the country, relief packages are also being distributed among communities. Health and Indigenous Medical Services Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi stated that 797,635 persons who qualify for the relief package provided to the elderly and kidney patients are in the process of receiving their package for May, which exceed Rs. 3,988 million.
In addition to this, 5,071,892 families will also receive a relief package of Rs. 5,000 each.