2,372 persons test positive for COVID-19; Delta variant detected in Dematagoda

Friday, 18 June 2021 00:14 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • 5 out of 9 samples from Dematagoda showed Delta variant
  • Variant previously only detected in quarantine centres
  • Single dose of vaccine insufficient to provide protection against variant: Dr. Jeewandara
  • CMC says random testing taking place in area 

By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya

The detection of the Delta COVID-19 variant in Colombo was yesterday confirmed along with the detection of 2,372 COVID-19 patients, raising concerns about the country’s COVID-19 situation.

University of Sri Jayewardenepura Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine Director Dr. Chandima Jeewandara yesterday tweeted: “Worst we could have imagined. B.1.617.2 was detected in Colombo! Remember it’s 50% faster than B117; more severe and evades one dose vaccine.”

“Thirteen samples were used for this study, including nine samples from Dematagoda. We [yesterday] confirmed that of the nine samples, five samples had the Delta B. 1.617.2 variant,” Dr. Jeewandara said, adding that the previous two times the Delta variant was detected in Sri Lanka were from samples collected from quarantine centres.

The B.1.617.2 Delta variant first originated in India and is categorised as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization. According to Dr. Jeewandara, it is roughly estimated that this variant spreads 50% faster than the Alpha variant, which has been the prevalent variant in Sri Lanka during the third wave.

“The issue with this variant is that a single dose of a vaccine cannot provide protection against the disease caused by this variant. It is thus important that all persons receive both doses of the vaccine,” he said, adding that the Delta variant could become the dominant variant in future.

Meanwhile, Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) Regional Epidemiologist Dr. D. Guruge posted on Twitter that the area has been under lockdown since Saturday. Random PCR tests have also been carried out since the CMC was notified of the suspicion, she said, adding: “We will be doing random PCR tests in Borella and other areas of Colombo City. If you have symptoms, please come to our sites.”

The reports from PCR tests are received within eight to ten hours, Dr. Guruge added.

The Health Promotion Bureau states that 20,128 PCR tests were carried out yesterday.

Meanwhile, health authorities stated that 2,361 persons linked to the New Year cluster were among the patients detected yesterday. This brings the cumulative patient count of the Divulapitiya, Peliyagoda, Prisons and New Year clusters to 226,074. This includes 131,122 patients from the New Year cluster, 82,785 patients from the Peliyagoda cluster, 6,747 patients from the Prisons cluster, and 3,059 patients from the Divulapitiya cluster.

A total of 4,737 Sri Lankan overseas returnees and 328 foreigners have also tested positive for COVID-19 in Sri Lanka.

The district distribution of COVID-19 detections to date shows 56,794 persons from Colombo, 39,864 persons from Gampaha, 25,459 persons from Kalutara, 12,319 persons from Kandy, and 12,123 persons from Kurunegala.

This includes the patients detected on Wednesday, of which 561 were from Gampaha, 516 were from Colombo, 156 were from Kalutara, 137 were from Kurunegala, and 134 were from Batticaloa.

According to the Epidemiology Unit, 2,436 persons tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. This includes 2,392 persons linked to the New Year cluster, 27 persons linked to the Prisons cluster, and 17 Sri Lankan returnees from abroad.

The country’s total COVID-19 patient count is 233,064. At present, 35,256 persons are under medical care and hospitals have under observation 1,436 persons suspected of having COVID-19.

The Epidemiology Unit adds that hospitals discharged 1,289 persons yesterday, bringing the country’s COVID-19 recoveries to 195,434.

With travel restrictions expected to be lifted on 21 June, Health Ministry Spokesperson Dr. Hemantha Herath yesterday said the Ministry has prepared guidelines on lifting travel restrictions, with focus on adherence to travel restrictions by the public without the implementation of legal regulations.