74 new cases identified; 71 linked to Divulapitiya cluster

Friday, 16 October 2020 03:42 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Cluster expands to 1,792; total confirmed cases increases to 5,244
  • Grocery stores and pharmacies permitted to operate in curfew-imposed areas
  • Five PCR machines brought down, testing capacity expanded
  • Arrangements made to further increase treatment facilities if necessary: Health Min.

By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya

Seventy-one persons linked to the Divulapitiya cluster yesterday tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total cluster count to 1,792.

The new cases include 22 Minuwangoda garment manufacturing facility employees and their associates who were being monitored at quarantine centres and 49 other employees. Additionally, three returnees from the United Arab Emirates tested positive for COVID-19. With this, the total number of confirmed cases in the island has risen to 5,244.

The Epidemiology Unit states that 1,845 persons are currently receiving treatment for COVID-19, including 323 persons at the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital, 228 persons at the Kamburugamuwa Hospital, 170 persons at the Hambantota District General Hospital and 167 at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID). Hospitals are also monitoring 322 persons suspected of having COVID-19.

The Epidemiology Unit adds that the total number of COVID-19 recoveries rose to 3,380, with 23 persons being discharged from hospitals yesterday. This includes 10 persons from the Welikanda Base Hospital, eight persons from the NIID, three persons from the Iranawila Hospital and two persons from the Hambantota District General Hospital.

Meanwhile, the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) stated that 254 persons left quarantine centres yesterday having completed the process. A total of 52,612 persons have left centres to date.

A further 9,703 persons are currently undergoing quarantine at 88 centres managed by the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Air Force, including 34 persons who arrived from Qatar yesterday.

In a statement issued yesterday, NOCPCO said grocery stores and pharmacies in areas where curfew has imposed will be permitted to operate from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. after services were restricted from Tuesday to Thursday.

According to the Health Promotion Bureau, 357,698 PCR tests have been carried out in the island to date, including 8,789 tests on Wednesday.

Addressing concerns about the PCR testing capacity in the country, Health Ministry Media Spokesperson Dr. Jayaruwan Bandara yesterday said five PCR machines have been brought down to the country.

“Two of them will be installed in the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake and the remaining three will be distributed to essential places by the Health Ministry,” stated Dr. Bandara. He added that machines that automatically generate results are also being brought down. One such machine is to be given to the molecular diagnosis laboratory in the Bandaranaike International Airport today.

Dr. Bandara added that measures are in place to prevent delays in results being issued and stated they are now released within 24 hours. He added that there are sufficient amounts of PPE kits and other safety gear in the country as well.

He went on to say that 14 hospitals are currently being used as COVID-19 treatment facilities, but that the Health Ministry has made arrangements to set aside beds in any hospital in the country if the need for an expansion of treatment capacity arises.

The Health Ministry Media Spokesperson also asked the public to be cautious of false claims circulated on social media and emphasised the need to follow safety guidelines. 

“Patients identified thus far have some connection to the garment manufacturing facility in Minuwangoda. We thus still believe that this time too, there has been no community transmission of COVID-19,” added Dr. Bandara.

Meanwhile, the National Film Cooperation in Sri Lanka Chairman Jayantha Dharmadasa yesterday issued a statement that all cinemas in the country will remain closed until 31 October, as per instructions issued by the Health Ministry.