COVID-19 toll soars

Thursday, 28 May 2020 00:28 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Confirmed cases jump by over 100 for second consecutive day
  • Cumulative total now at 1,469 with 150 new cases added yesterday
  • 97 new cases returnees from abroad
  • Remaining 53 identified cases Navy personnel
  • 20 recoveries bring total to 732 whilst 727 confirmed patients in hospitals
  • Teldeniya, Hambantota hospitals converted into treatment centres
  • Measures taken to ensure no community spread from overseas arrivals

By Shailendree 

Wickrama Adittiya

COVID-19 confirmed cases in Sri Lanka has increased to 1,469 with 150 patients identified yesterday, marking the second consecutive day of over 100 new cases. 

Of the 150 cases, 53 were identified among Navy personnel at Quarantine Centres, and 97 were foreign arrivals, the Epidemiology Unit stated. The number of COVID-19 positive persons identified among Navy personnel and their close contacts has risen to 727. The total count of confirmed cases also includes 309 other local cases, and 417 imported cases, of which three are foreigners.

The total number of recoveries in the country is 732, and twenty persons were discharged from hospitals, having recovered from COVID-19 yesterday. In addition to this, there are 727 patients under medical care and 75 suspect patients under investigation.

The Health Promotion Bureau states that 57,327 PCR tests have been carried out, including 1,146 on Tuesday. 

Two days ago, Sri Lanka recorded its highest number of daily cases with 132 persons testing positive for COVID-19. Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe said 10 of them were Navy personnel and the remaining 127 were returnees from Kuwait. “We have completed the PCR tests of those who returned from Kuwait, and a few more flights are scheduled in the future,” the Health Services Director General said.

The Defence Ministry stated on its website that a SriLankan Airlines flight carrying 272 Sri Lankans from Qatar arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday morning. While all persons returning and their belongings were disinfected by airport authorities, the returnees will complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine process.

With a significant number of returnees from overseas testing positive for COVID-19, the Teldeniya District Hospital and the Hambantota General Hospital have been converted into COVID-19 treatment centres.

Health and Indigenous Medical Services Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi stated that the Government was taking all necessary precautions to ensure there are no community transmissions from the overseas arrivals who test positive.

She added that countries like Kuwait have informed the Government of the need to maintain bilateral relations, and as well as the need to bring back Sri Lankans residing in those countries without a visa or permit.

“In these matters, as a responsible Government, we have to bring back our citizens when they are in such helpless situations without visa,” Wanniarachchi said.

With regard to quarantine centres, the Sri Lanka Navy stated that four persons undergoing the quarantine process in Kalpitiya had left the centre yesterday, after completing the process. They will be required to spend an additional 14 days in self-quarantine at their homes, as per healthcare guidelines.

The Sri Lanka Navy added that 19 persons are currently undergoing the quarantine process at this centre.

Box 1

Govt. calls for public vigilance as dengue death toll reaches 20

Twenty persons have died due to dengue in 2020, Health and Indigenous Medical Services Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said, addressing the press yesterday.

She stated that the Government needed public support in preventing dengue in Sri Lanka. “If you have high fever, visit the main district hospital for dengue treatment in your area,” she said, adding that it was important to keep one’s surroundings clean and free of breeding grounds. The Health Minister also added that mosquito breeding grounds are most often found in construction sites.

Wanniarachchi added that local government bodies should support dengue prevention efforts as much as they support COVID-19 containment efforts.

According to the Epidemiology Unit’s data for May, 144 dengue cases have been identified in Kandy, 118 in Ratnapura, and 83 in Jaffna. Colombo has had 62 cases in May. A total of 743 dengue cases have been reported in May and this is a significant increase from the 471 cases identified last month. A total of 19,746 cases have been identified this year.

From January to May last year, 20,378 dengue cases were identified. The Epidemiology Unit also stated that 19,746 suspected dengue cases have been reported to the Unit since January 2020.

Wanniarachchi added that 150 persons died of dengue last year and that a task force for the prevention of dengue has been formed by the Health and Indigenous Medical Services Ministry as per President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s instructions.


Box 2

Guidelines for public activities published

Guidelines covering 46 public activities and work settings were officially published online by the Health and Indigenous Medical Services Ministry and the Department of Government Information yesterday.

Titled ‘Towards a New Normal’, the guidelines are on the resumption of public activities during the gradual exit from existing restrictions for COVID-19 in Sri Lanka. It covers areas like the use of transport, services like bill payments and gas stations, recreation, social functions, and religions and educational activities.

The publication specifies the broad activity area, specific public activity or work setting, guidance or message to the public, organisation or service provider, special interventions to be taken by the Government to facilitate the desired behaviour change of public, and existing documents related to the activity.

According to a statement issued by the Department of Government Information, the Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe has advised the public to adhere to these guidelines, adding that there was a legal requirement that all parties are informed on, and adhere to, these guidelines.

Addressing the press, Dr. Jasinghe said the public health inspectors of the area should be consulted about any events not covered by the guidelines.