672 COVID-19 patients detected

Friday, 23 April 2021 00:20 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • 98,722 COVID-19 patients detected, triple clusters exceed 93,000
  • COVID-19 variant found in patients detected in State bank expected by Wednesday
  • GMOA warns of increasing fatalities if treatment capacity is exceeded
  • COVID-19 task force scheduled to meet today

By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya

Marking the second consecutive day where over 500 COVID-19 patients have been detected in the island, health authorities stated that 672 persons tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday.

The patients detected yesterday include 657 associates of the Peliyagoda COVID-19 cluster and the Divulapitiya, Peliyagoda, and Prisons clusters have expanded to 93,152 patients. A total of 98,722 COVID-19 patients have been detected in the island to date.

In addition to the triple clusters, 3,371 Sri Lankan returnees from abroad, 950 Navy personnel and their contacts, 651 persons linked to the Kandakadu cluster, and 270 foreigners have also tested positive for COVID-19.

The district distribution of patients shows 30,866 persons from Colombo, 18,843 persons from Gampaha, 6,865 persons from Kalutara, 4,307 persons from Kandy, and 3,221 persons from Kurunegala.

This includes the 578 patients detected on Wednesday, of which 171 were from Kurunegala, 51 were from Puttalam, 43 were from Colombo, 43 were from Gampaha, and 42 were from Kalutara.

The daily patient count has remained below 500 since mid-February but an increase in the spread of COVID-19 has been visible since Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebrations a week ago.

According to Colombo Municipal Council Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni, there has been a 4% increase in patients. “We are seeing that the patients detected are between 30 and 59 years of age,” he said, adding, “We see a change in the frequency at which this disease spreads, with an increase in comparison to the first and second waves.”

Dr. Wijayamuni went on to say that 84 persons have tested positive for COVID-19 so far after two officers of a State bank contracted the virus.

Samples from patients detected from the bank have been sent to the Sri Jayewardenepura University for further testing.

“We plan on performing a special PCR test on Tuesday to identify variants using a different process. Special PCR tests have been developed at a global level and have been used to detect the variants in Brazil, California, South Africa, and UK. We have already ordered these testing kits and expect to receive them [today],” Operations and Clinical Services at Allergy Immunology and Cell Biology Unit Director Dr. Chandima Jeewandara said.

He explained that the test will be used to determine if the virus currently spreading in the island is similar to what has been detected in other parts of the world. Findings from the study are expected by Wednesday.

“Our laboratories carried out testing on samples collected from banks in Colombo. We saw S gene target failure, which has typically happened in the past with UK variants. With the Indian variant, S gene target failure does not typically take place,” Dr. Jeewandara explained.

Observations made thus far point to similarities with the UK variant, he added.

Concerns are being raised about treatment capacities in the island and Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Samaraweera said, “A decision was made to identify intensive care units, increase the required facilities, train staff to work in intensive care units, manage oxygen supply in an efficient and uninterrupted manner, and renovate infrastructure.”

However, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) warned that the number of COVID-19-related deaths will be hard to manage if treatment and intensive care capacities are exceeded.

“At a point where the number of patients detected in the island was 8,000, there were 15 to 16 persons under intensive care. However, with 3,000 detected patients now, there are over 35 persons in intensive care units today. This reflects the seriousness of this variant and gravity of the situation. We are nearing the maximum capacity in our intensive care units,” GMOA Executive Committee Member Dr. Prasad Colombage said.

He added that previously, persons requiring ICU care were over the age of 55, but that younger persons now required intensive care.

According to the Epidemiology Unit, 4,204 persons are currently under medical care, including 242 persons at the Giriulla Treatment Centre, 170 persons at the Dambadeniya Treatment Centre, and 147 persons at the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital.

There are also 573 persons suspected of having COVID-19 under observation at various treatment centres.

Hospitals yesterday discharged 216 persons who recovered from the virus. This includes 42 persons from the Dambadeniya Treatment Centre, 41 persons from the Kopai Treatment Centre, and 26 persons from the Welikanda Base Hospital. A total of 93,884 persons have recovered from the virus to date.

According to the Health Promotion Bureau, 12,464 PCR tests were performed on Wednesday.

Given the situation, the task force appointed to control the spread of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka is scheduled to meet today with the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. According to State Minister of Primary Healthcare, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle, several requests will be presented at the meeting.

“We will be requesting that the IGP be notified to enforce the law strictly in the coming month and movement restrictions and a complete ban on large gatherings is extremely important,” she said, adding that a request was made at a special meeting held on Wednesday to restrict gatherings and events during Vesak.


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