Sri Lanka’s health ministry assured this week that the country was not facing a second wave of the COVID-19 after a spike in cases from a drug rehabilitation center in the north central province which had now transformed into a cluster, and added the situation was well under control.
Director General of Health Services Dr. Anil Jasingha told journalists that this new cluster in Kandakadu had reported over 500 patients within the past three days and it could be well controlled.
“It is a challenge but we can do it just like we did in the past. People and institutions took COVID-19 very lightly after the re-opening of the country,” Jasingha said.
About 533 persons from the Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre- East Kandakadu and their contacts have so far tested positive for COVID-19. Hundreds have been taken into quarantine within the past three days for having links to the inmates and employees of the Rehabilitation Center, the health ministry said.
Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva said among the infected, 444 are inmates, 64 are staff including instructors and 25 are those who had come into contact with the infected patients.
He said all reports of PCR or COVID-19 tests conducted on the inmates and staff from the rehabilitation centre have been received.
“The relatives of inmates who had visited the rehabilitation centre have been placed in quarantine. The reports of PCR tests conducted on a small group of persons are yet to be received. Once the reports are obtained, a decision will be taken on whether or not to place in quarantine those who had come into contact with the tested persons’, the Commander of the Army said.
Sri Lanka shut schools this week following the detection of the new cluster as a preventive measure.
Election looming, health guidelines needs to be gazetted
Chairman of the National Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya says the delay in gazetting the health guidelines issued on COVID-19 to be followed during the election is a major obstacle to holding the polls set for next month.
In a news conference Mr Deshapriya said the Commission is determined to hold the General Election on 5 August 2020, but it must be ensured that the election is not a key factor for the resurgence of COVID-19 in the country.
Mr Deshapriya said during the Commission’s meeting yesterday it was decided to re-appeal to the health authorities to gazette the health guidelines issued on COVID-19 pertaining to the election.
The Election Commission is also considering having mobile polling booths for those who have been placed in self-isolation, in a bid to prevent them from arriving at polling booths on election day and causing a COVID-19 outbreak, he said.
A review by the Commission is set to for 21st July to review the current situation in the country.
The postal voting for over 700,000 Sri Lankan officers, who will be on duty on August 5 for the parliamentary polls, began on Monday amidst special security measures, following the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.
The voting will go on for 5 days with two days reserved next week for those who fail to cast their vote this week.
All election rallies of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa have also been cancelled temporarily, the Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP) announced on Sunday, following a surge in coronavirus cases.