- Over 1,400 COVID-19 patients detected during weekend
- Total patient count rises to 53,076, includes 7,641 active patients
- Two hotels already converted to treatment centres: NOCPCO Head
- Explains measure allows for expansion of repatriation efforts
By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
The COVID-19 clusters that emerged from Divulapitiya, Peliyagoda, and Prisons exceeded 49,000 patients with more than 1,400 persons testing positive for the virus over the weekend.
Patients detected over the course of the past two days include 719 patients on Saturday and 763 patients yesterday. According to the Department of Government Information, the 749 persons who tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday include 747 associates of the Peliyagoda cluster, two persons from the Prisons cluster, and 14 overseas arrivals.
The previous day, 697 associates of the Peliyagoda cluster, 18 persons from the Prisons cluster, and four overseas arrivals tested positive for COVID-19.
The triple clusters have thus increased to 49,274 patients and the country’s total COVID-19 patient count has increased to 53,076. This includes 20,439 persons from Colombo District, 10,853 persons from Gampaha District, 3,569 persons from Kalutara District, 1,913 persons from Kandy District, and 970 persons from Ratnapura District.
The district distribution takes into account the 719 patients detected on Saturday, of which 182 were from Gampaha, 152 were from Colombo, 75 were from Kandy, 43 were from Kalutara, and 37 were from Matale.
According to the Epidemiology Unit, the country’s total patient count also includes 1,733 Sri Lankan returnees from abroad, 950 Navy personnel and their contacts, 651 persons linked to the Kandakadu cluster, and 141 foreigners.
A total of 7,641 persons are currently under medical care at various treatment centres, of which 514 persons are at the Punani Treatment Centre, 422 persons are at the Neville Fernando Hospital, and 419 persons are at the Bingiriya Treatment Centre. Hospitals are also monitoring 757 persons suspected of having COVID-19.
The Epidemiology Unit adds that 45,171 persons have recovered from COVID-19 to date. This includes 93 persons from the Punani Treatment Centre, 28 persons from the Panideniya Treatment Centre, and 27 persons from the Kahawatte Treatment Centre discharged yesterday.
According to National Operations Centre for the Prevention of the COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) Head Gen. Shavendra Silva, approximately 3,000 of the country’s active patients are receiving treatment at hospitals while the remaining patients, amounting to approximately 4,000, are asymptomatic patients and are thus at intermediate treatment centres.
Silva went on to explain that a 100-room hotel in Koggala has been converted into a treatment centre for those who are willing to pay for better facilities. The hotel is currently being used to treat 150 patients and has specialist doctors from Galle as per the recommendations of the Director General of Health Services.
He added that a private hospital had also converted a 60-room hotel in Colombo for the purpose of treating COVID-19 patients and another private hospital will be soon treating patients at another hotel.
“A situation that arose in the past one-and-a-half-month period is an increase in COVID-19 patients in the country and there were capacity shortages in hospitals,” Silva said, explaining that quarantine centres managed by the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy, and Sri Lanka Air Force were converted into intermediate treatment facilities to treat asymptomatic patients in order to address capacity shortages faced by hospitals.
This move limited repatriation efforts that were being carried out, Silva said, adding that repatriation efforts were once again increasing.
“At the beginning of repatriation efforts, we were informed there were approximately 45,000 persons who needed to be flown back to Sri Lanka. However, as of now, we have brought down close to 73,000 persons,” Silva added.
Regarding the spread of COVID-19 in the country, the NOCPCO Head said the situation in the Colombo Municipal area has been controlled to a great extent but spread is seen in other areas. He added that public cooperation was vital, as seen in Atalugama, where the situation went from four COVID-19 patients to 1,034 patients due to the failure of area residents to cooperate with the authorities.
According to the Epidemiology Unit’s categorisation of district and Medical Officer of Health (MOH) areas based on COVID-19 patients detected in the 14 days preceding 12 January, 19 areas in the Colombo District, 15 areas in Gampaha District, and 13 areas in Kalutara District are categorised as high-risk areas.
There is currently at least one high risk area in every district of the country.