- Total COVID-19 patient count exceeds 56,000
- Triple clusters rise to 52,202, active patients rise to 7,816
- NOCPCO Head requests private healthcare centres to lower testing charges
- Asks institutions to adhere to safety guidelines and regulations
By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
Over 800 persons tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the country’s total COVID-19 patient count to 56,076.
According to the Department of Government Information, 887 COVID-19 patients were detected in the island yesterday and this is the highest number of patients detected in a day. On 2 December 2020, 878 persons tested positive for the virus and 866 persons tested positive for COVID-19 on 23 October 2020.
Patients detected yesterday include 866 associates of the Peliyagoda COVID-19 cluster and seven persons linked to the Prisons COVID-19 cluster tested positive for the virus yesterday. The triple clusters that first emerged from Divulapitiya on 4 October have thus expanded to 52,202 patients.
In addition to the Divulapitiya, Peliyagoda, and Prisons clusters, 950 Navy personnel and their contacts and 651 persons linked to the Kandakadu Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre have also tested positive from currently inactive clusters.
The country’s imported cases include 1,802 Sri Lankan returnees from abroad and 144 foreigners.
Of the total patient count, 7,816 persons are currently under medical care, of which 714 patients are at the Punani Treatment Centre, 442 patients are at the Kopai Treatment Centre, and 419 patients are at the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital. Hospitals are also monitoring 792 persons suspected of having COVID-19.According to the Epidemiology Unit, the district distribution of COVID-19 patients shows 21,185 patients from Colombo, 11,507 patients from Gampaha, and 3,763 patients from Kalutara. Beyond the Western Province, 2,016 persons from Kandy, 1,046 persons from Galle, and 1,045 persons from Ratnapura have also tested positive for COVID-19.
This includes the 770 COVID-19 patients detected on Wednesday, of which 270 were from Colombo, 80 were from Gampaha, 56 were from Galle, and 56 were from Matara.
The Epidemiology Unit adds that 47,984 persons have recovered from the virus to date. Among persons discharged from hospitals yesterday are 69 persons from the Dambadeniya Treatment Centre, 55 persons from the Punani Treatment Centre, and 46 persons from the Polgolla Treatment Centre.
Meanwhile, the Health Promotion Bureau stated that 1,538,345 PCR tests have been performed in the island to date, including 16,108 tests on Wednesday.
The Directorate of Media of the Sri Lanka Army yesterday issued a statement on the discussion held between Army Commander and National Operations Centre for the Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) Head Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, Health Services Director General Dr. Asela Gunawardena and private sector laboratory technicians on Wednesday. According to the statement, top officials of the Health Ministry and State hospitals, NOCPCO members, and up to 12 laboratory authorities and private hospital administrators were present.
The discussion focused on the possibility of implementing a common regulatory mechanism for PCR and rapid antigen tests, giving priority to BOI-approved garment industry employees, healthcare workers, and those set to undergo surgery. The mechanism would streamline and reinforce credibility of such procedures in accordance with guidelines issued by the Director General of Health Services.
At the discussion, Lt. Gen. Silva raised concerns about private hospitals not following proper procedure with regard to testing and COVID-19-positive persons.
“Health authorities are not informed of such positive cases and private hospitals tend to release them haphazardly. It has also been brought to notice that testing methodology has been twisted and attempts are made by certain private sector hospitals to carry out antigen and PCR tests also at regional testing places and mini-laboratories which have not received any authorisation from the Ministry,” he said.
The NOCPCO Head also spoke about complaints raised against the exorbitant amounts charged by private hospitals for PCR and rapid antigen tests. “Only authorised standard charges should be levied for such tests. It is much better if those existing price ranges can be further reduced for the benefit of the masses,” he commented. According to the statement, Dr. Asela Gunawardena also appealed to technicians to adhere to guidelines and regulations and ensure the credibility of the testing methodology. The NOCPCO yesterday announced that Arasady Grama Niladhari Division in the Batticaloa District has been isolated, adding that isolation has been relaxed in eight Grama Niladhari Divisions in the Kattankudy Police Division, two Grama Niladhari Divisions in Bandaragama/Atalugama, and the Alupotha Grama Niladhari Division in Moneragala/Badalkumbura.
Meanwhile, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana yesterday said: “Plainclothesman have observed that public transport and school transport services are operating without proper adherence to safety guidelines, so we expect to launch a special operation related to this.”
He explained that transport services are only permitted to take on passengers to meet the maximum seating capacity of the vehicle.