Divulapitiya cluster grows to 1,083 with new patients

Saturday, 10 October 2020 00:06 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • 30 new positive cases identified
  • Total confirmed cases cross 4,500 mark
  • Over 1,100 persons receiving treatment
  • Essential services permitted to operate in curfew-imposed areas

By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya

The Divulapitiya cluster expanded to 1,083, with 30 persons testing positive for COVID-19 yesterday.

Of the new cases, 24 are contacts, three are other contacts currently being investigated, and three are employees of the garment manufacturing facility. This brings the total number of confirmed cases identified in the island to 4,518.

There are currently 1,195 persons receiving treatment for COVID-19, including 16 foreigners. Of the active cases, 211 are at the Kamburugamuwa Hospital, 158 are at the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital, and 156 are at the Hambantota District General Hospital.

The number of COVID-19 recoveries rose to 3,296, with 18 persons leaving hospitals yesterday having recovered from the virus. According to the Epidemiology Unit, nine persons at the Welikanda Base Hospital, five persons at the Hambantota District General Hospital, and four persons at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) were discharged yesterday.

The Epidemiology Unit adds that 350 persons suspected of having COVID-19 are being monitored at various hospitals. This includes the Sri Jayewardenepura Teaching Hospital, Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) Hospital, and the Ragama Teaching Hospital.

The Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children is monitoring six persons as well, with staff of a ward that was treating a five-month-old child since August being subjected to PCR testing. This comes after the child’s father tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

According to the hospital director Dr. G. Wijesuriya, the family is from Kandy but resided in Kotikawatta for the last two months. Samples of the mother and child have also been collected for testing.

In addition to this, a child admitted to the hospital on 7 October tested positive for the virus the following day. The child was treated in isolation as the symptoms displayed during admission were similar to those of COVID-19. The child is from a family residing in Minuwangoda. The child was transferred to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) for further treatment, Dr. Wijesuriya added.

Despite patients being identified from various parts of the island, health authorities are yet to claim there is community transmission of the virus in Sri Lanka. Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Samaraweera yesterday said there could be patients in society who are yet to be identified.

“We can come into contact with them anywhere. In such an instance, persons can get infected and another patient or cluster may emerge. If such a situation arises, we will have to say that there is community transmission,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) yesterday raised concerns about the absence of a GPS mapping mechanism of COVID-19 patient distribution. In a letter addressed to Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe, GMOA Secretary Dr. Senal Fernando wrote: “We have noticed that the absence of a proper GPS mapping mechanism of COVID-19 patient distribution made it difficult to take prompt and correct decisions of zonal lockdowns.”

The GMOA added that the Health Ministry has the capacity, expertise, and experience in GPS mapping, which was previously used to track patients in the Colombo Municipal Council area.

According to the letter, these concerns were raised by the GMOA during a discussion between the association and Health Ministry officials, including Dr. Munasinghe, the previous day.

The GMOA also shared a letter addressed to Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Samaraweera dated 7 October requesting a daily situation report and public guidance report on the current COVID-19 situation in the country.

In the letter, the GMOA asked that reports are issued on the origin of the current COVID-19 cluster, severity of the spread of the virus in the country, surveillance mechanism to assess the current spread of patients, and rationale and decision on zonal lockdown of contaminated zones with COVID-19 patients or their contacts.

In addition to this, the Sri Lanka Police yesterday permitted certain essential services to operate within curfew-imposed areas between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. According to a statement issued by the Sri Lanka Police, Lanka Sathosa and other supermarkets, co-operative stores, animal product and animal feed producers and distributors, stores that fall under the Fisheries Corporation, and Government and semi-Government manufacturers of food and beverages will be allowed to operate in these areas.

While pharmacies will also be permitted to operate in areas where curfew has been imposed, persons accessing these services must produce a letter from a medical professional or documentation from a hospital clinic.

All persons accessing the above services must wear a face mask and maintain social distancing, while the management of outlets permitted to operate must carry out temperature checks and hand sanitisation on all staff and patrons.

While the management must also follow all other safety guidelines, they must refuse entry to anyone displaying symptoms of COVID-19 and inform health officials of such persons.

Quarantine curfew has been imposed in 18 police jurisdictions of the Gampaha District, including Gampaha, Ganemulla, Kirindiwela, Dompe, Malwathuhiripitiya, Meerigama, Nittambuwa, Pugoda, Veyangoda, Minuwangoda, Viragula, Valiveriya, Pallewela, Yakkala, Ja-Ela, Kandana, Divulapitiya, and Seeduwa.

The Sri Lanka Police has thus far arrested 91 persons and taken into custody 23 vehicles and 19 motorcycles over curfew violations.

The Department of Government Information yesterday announced that the issuing of revenue licences for vehicles registered in the North Western Province will be temporarily suspended given the current situation in the country.

The Department for Registration of Persons also issued a statement on the closure of their head office and provincial offices until 16 October. All persons with applications to receive National Identity Cards through the one-day service have been asked to hand over the application to the relevant unit of their divisional secretariat.

The head office and regional offices of the Department of Immigration and Emigration will also be closed to the public until 16 October.

As efforts to contain the spread of the virus continues, the National Operation Centre for the Prevention of the COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) yesterday stated that 136 persons left quarantine centres after completing the process and being subjected to PCR tests. A total of 49,689 persons have left centres to date.

Eighty centres are currently observing 9,630 persons, including nine persons who arrived from London yesterday.


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