- FTZ factories permitted to carry out operations
- 130 persons from Divulapitiya cluster test positive, cluster total exceeds 1,700
- Over 2,800 PCR tests carried out in Colombo city since 4 Oct.
- 6 teams appointed by CMC to monitor spread in city
By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
The Government yesterday announced that curfew will be imposed in the Katunayake Police Jurisdiction until further notice as a precautionary measure, given the increasing number of COVID-19 cases linked to the Divulapitiya cluster.
Despite curfew, factories in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ) will be permitted to operate, and workers can present their company identification cards in place of a curfew pass. According to the National Operation Centre for the Prevention of the COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO), curfew was enforced at 5 a.m. today.
Meanwhile, quarantine curfew in 18 other police jurisdictions in the Gampaha district are also in place. According to a statement issued by the NOCPCO, authorities have decided that isolation curfew would continue until the end of the week, with investigations into the cluster revealing that the first positive case from the cluster would have occurred between 10 and 20 September.
Supermarkets and pharmacies, which were allowed to operate in curfew-imposed areas from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., were not permitted to do so from Tuesday. A decision on this will be taken today, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.
He added that 135 persons have been arrested and 37 vehicles taken into police custody since 4 October over violations of quarantine curfew in these areas.
The measures come with the expansion of the Divulapitiya cluster, which has increased to over 1,700 cases since 4 October. This is the largest COVID-19 cluster in the country, with 950 Navy personnel and close contacts testing positive in the Welisara Navy Camp cluster and 651 persons connected to the Kandakadu Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre testing positive in the Kandakadu cluster.
According to the Department of Government Information, 130 persons tested positive yesterday, bringing the Divulapitiya cluster to 1,721. Of yesterday’s cases, five are employees of the garment manufacturing plant in Minuwangoda and their contacts who were directed to quarantine centres. The remaining 108 are other contacts.
This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the island to 5,168, of which 1,798 are currently receiving treatment. According to the Epidemiology Unit, 256 persons are being treated at the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital, 223 persons are being treated at the Kamburugamuwa Hospital, 168 persons are being treated at the Hambantota District General Hospital, and 163 persons are being treated at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID).
Hospitals are also monitoring 293 persons suspected of having COVID-19.
The Epidemiology Unit adds that the number of recoveries in the island yesterday rose to 3,357, with 29 persons leaving hospitals, having recovered from COVID-19. This includes 15 persons discharged from Laggala Pallegama Hospital, seven persons from the Welikanda Base Hospital, four persons from the Iranawila Hospital, and three persons from the NIID.
According to the NOCPCO, the Army has prepared for a 100-bed treatment facility in the North, which will expand the capacity of treatment facilities in the country.
The NOCPCO also stated that 84 quarantine centres are currently monitoring 9,905 persons. They added that 52,090 persons have left centres to date, including 379 persons who completed the quarantine process yesterday. Meanwhile, the Health Promotion Bureau stated that over 348,900 PCR tests have been carried out in the island to date, with Colombo Municipal Council’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni saying 8,833 PCR tests have been carried out in Colombo city alone.
This includes 2,884 tests since 4 October, from which 11 patients were identified. Dr. Wijayamuni added that if a decision is taken to enforce lockdown in Colombo, it would be taken by the health sector, Epidemiology Unit, NOCPCO, and the Colombo Municipal Council. At present, however, there was no reason to go into lockdown.
He went on to add that six teams have been appointed to monitor the situation in Colombo city, with 49 PHIs working under six health offers to monitor Colombo North, Colombo Central, Borella, Colombo West, and Colombo East.
The tasks of these teams include identifying patients and their contacts in Colombo and limiting the spread to that area, identifying contacts and preventing spread beyond that area, containing the virus within the Colombo city, and preventing it from spilling out of Colombo city.
He added that an ops room is already functioning with a regional epidemiologist managing information coming in from the Epidemiology Unit and the intelligence units. A medical officer of health and five PHIs will also monitor the situation throughout the night.