Dual cluster exceeds 14,000 cases with 387 new patients

Tuesday, 17 November 2020 01:11 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • 5,807 persons receiving medical care 
  • Treatment capacity increased to 9,432
  • Police sub-cluster increases to 785
  • Over 400 COVID-19 cases identified from prisons; includes 10 officers
  • Measures taken to contain spread of COVID-19 in prisons
  • 27 local labs in use for PCR testing, daily capacity increased to 13,000

The dual COVID-19 cluster that emerged from Divulapitiya and Peliyagoda yesterday exceeded 14,000 cases with the detection of 387 cases.

Of the cases identified yesterday, 382 were associates of the Peliyagoda cluster and five were overseas arrivals. With all recent cases linked to the Peliyagoda cluster, authorities stated that the Divulapitiya COVID-19 cluster was under control.

According to the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of the COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) Head Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, this was possible through policy and measures implemented by the Government, NOCPCO, health and defence units, and all other sectors.

The dual cluster, which emerged on 4 October, has expanded to 14,170 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the island to 17,674. This includes 1,484 Sri Lankan returnees from abroad, 950 Navy personnel and their contacts, 651 persons connected to the Kandakadu cluster, and 102 foreigners.

Of the total cases, 5,807 are currently under medical care at various treatment centres. According to the Epidemiology Unit, the active cases include 498 persons at the Punani Treatment Centre, 387 persons at the Bingiriya Treatment Centre, and 341 persons at the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital.

According to Health Services Deputy Director General Dr. Hemantha Herath, there are 58 COVID-19 treatment centres in the country, with a capacity of 9,432 beds. There are also 15 intensive care units (ICU) with 146 beds dedicated for COVID-19 patients. Only seven ICU beds are being used at present.

While hospitals are also monitoring 464 persons suspected of having COVID-19, treatment centres yesterday discharged 311 persons. This includes 76 persons from the Kamburugamuwa Hospital, 46 persons from the Kalutara Police Training School, and 38 persons from the Polgolla Treatment Centre.

The country’s COVID-19 recoveries have thus increased to 11,806.

According to the Epidemiology Unit, 5,366 COVID-19 patients have been detected in the Colombo District alone. This includes 541 infected persons identified on Sunday. Of Sunday’s cases, 372 were from Colombo 1 to 15, 53 were from Dematagoda, 29 were from Angulana, 15 were from Bluemendal, and 14 were from Moratuwa.

The 704 cases identified on Sunday also include 39 persons from Gampaha and a total of 4,987 persons have been identified from the District to date. The third highest count of patients is recorded from the Kalutara District, where 611 persons have tested positive to date, including three on Sunday.

According to authorities, Sunday’s cases also include 54 Police officers, 14 Navy and Air Force personnel, and 13 from prisons.

Sources reveal that 785 COVID-19 patients have been identified among officers attached to the Police. This includes 191 Special Task Force (STF) officers and 64 officer from the Colombo Crimes Division, as well as 122 from the Fort Police Station, 90 from the Borella Police Station, 24 from the Grandpass Police Station, and 10 from the Dam Street Police Station.

The number of patients identified from prisons increased to 437 by 12 midnight on Sunday, Primary Care Services Director of the Health Ministry and Prisons Health Services Director Dr. Priyantha Arapattu said yesterday. This includes inmates from the Welikada, Bogambara, Boossa, and Kuruvita prisons as well as 10 officers.

Testing all persons who enter the prisons system as inmates could indicate the extent to which COVID-19 has spread in the country, Dr. Atapattu said, adding that quarantine measures were taken to minimise the risk of spread within the system.

According to Dr. Atapattu, since March, new inmates are quarantined for 14 days and kept separate from old inmates. While male inmates entering the Welikada Prison were quarantined at a dedicated centre, female inmates were quarantined within the premises.

“With the emergence of clusters in the country, random sampling was carried out on new inmates. This is how it was revealed that there were infected persons among the inmates,” he said.

While measures have been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among inmates, the Kandakadu Treatment Centre is being used for infected persons identified among male inmates and the Gallela Treatment Centre is being used for infected persons identified among female inmates.

Dr. Atapattu added that the a 20-bed medical unit with respiratory facilities was last Monday dedicated for female inmates, while the Welikanda Hospital is being used to treat inmates with disabilities of medical conditions that make them a high-risk group.

As a coordinator of the home-delivery service for medication, Dr. Atapattu said the service was launched immediately after curfew was imposed in the Colombo and Gampaha Districts in order to protect high-risk groups. All relevant information on the program and how to access it can be found on the Health Ministry website, he said, adding that the public can also contact 011786038 for more information.

Dr. Atapattu also compiles data on PCR tests carried out in the island and, in this capacity, said the 27th laboratory for PCR testing was yesterday opened at the Peradeniya Medical Faculty. He explained that the country’s daily PCR capacity was 13,000, with the maximum capacity being 15,000 if machines function throughout the day.

He went on to explain that measures are being taken to ensure continuous testing, with the testing capacity being increased gradually. Dr. Atapattu added that the testing process is not limited to a PCR machine alone, with 40 to 45 devices used for various processes like the collection, transfer, extraction, and storage of samples.

According to the Health Promotion Bureau, 672,100 PCR tests have been carried out in the island to date, including 10,713 tests on Sunday.

Explaining the testing process implemented in the country, Health Services Deputy Director General Dr. Hemantha Herath said testing is mainly targeted at present, allowing for links to be identified between patients. However, random testing will increase when the number of patients identified through targeted testing decreases.

While health authorities have stressed that Sri Lanka is yet to reach a level of community transmission in terms of the spread of the virus, Dr. Herath said public health intervention efforts reduce to a certain extent once there is community transmission and patients are identified from all areas of the island.

The ease of carrying out such efforts is one of the factors that goes into decisions to isolate certain areas and the time period areas are isolated for, he said, adding: “Lockdown areas are decided on the detection of patients and to ease the public health work carried out in these areas, especially based on data compiled by the Epidemiology Unit and State Intelligence Service.”

He added that certain problems arise in the contact tracing and testing process when persons are freely entering and exiting areas where patients are detected. “To minimise this, until activities are completed, we name lockdown areas where movement restrictions are imposed,” Dr. Herath added.

Due to the high number of patients detected from the Colombo municipal area, these areas are targeted when carrying out testing, NOCPCO Head Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva said, adding that the majority of cases identified from the Colombo District were from isolated areas.

According to the NOCPCO, 30,000 first and second contacts of COVID-19 patients are currently undergoing self-quarantine, while 3,168 persons are undergoing the process at 33 centres.

In addition to this, 118 overseas arrivals have been directed to quarantine centres as well, including 78 persons from Ethiopia, 22 persons from India, 12 persons from Qatar, five persons from Pakistan, and one person from Japan.



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