Chief Epidemiologist’s duty to reveal origin – GMOA
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
Although the origin of the Brandix Minuwangoda facility COVID-19 cluster is not important to treat patients, it is the duty of the Chief Epidemiologist to reveal its origin, Secretary of the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA), Dr. Senal Fernando said.
He said on 16 October that the purpose of having a Chief Epidemiologist was to provide the technical answers to the country.
“When the first wave of the virus was controlled, the people were informed of the origin and the spread of the disease. Even when the Navy cluster at Welisara was identified, the public were informed as to how the infection could have started within the Naval camp.
However, in this case, even the possibility of its origin seems to evade the Epidemiology Unit. During the past number of months, the GMOA has continuously warned and advised the Health authorities, the Government and even the public regarding the possible ways in which the Virus could seep into the country once more since July of this year. The threat was not only from the foreign repatriates, but also from those involved in the repatriation process from flight crews to the employees of the quarantine centres to even those who supplied food to quarantine centres. The situation is similar at every port of entry to the country. There was also the colossal threat from those entering the country illegally from India”. He noted that there was “also the threat from the Virus being contracted by our local fishermen from the Indian fishing communities.”
He warned that a countrywide lockdown would be inevitable if zonal lockdown measures which were currently being implemented were not strictly implemented and adhered to under the current situation.
Meanwhile, journalists who had attended the Cabinet Media conference on 13 October at the Government Information Department have been requested to self-isolate. Issuing a statement, Director General of the Department Nalaka Kaluwewa said that it is suspected that a journalist who attended the media briefing may have contracted COVID-19.
In its wake, the United National Party issuing a statement, has asked for an investigation as to why a journalist who had tested positive for COVID-19 and whose subsequent polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results were pending was employed to cover media briefings. They requested the Government to take necessary disciplinary action. The journalist who was an Independent Television Network staffer was diagnosed with COVID-19 on 16 October. Health authorities carried out contact tracing of the patient following the detection.
Further, Colombo Mayor Rosy Senanayake was subjected to a PCR test on 16 October after an employee of the Council’s Public Assistance Department situated at Maradana tested positive for COVID-19. The head of the particular Department had visited the Mayor’s office on 15 October.
Elsewhere, two persons with COVID-19 were identified in Iriyagolla, Rambukkana on 15 October which resulted in the lockdown of six villages, the District Health Service Director, Kumar Wickremasinghe said. One of the two had been admitted to the Rambukkana Hospital on 10 October and had subsequently been transferred to the Hospital in Kegalle. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 following a PCR test. She was then transferred to the Kattankudy Hospital for treatment.
Also, a resident of Gampaha who was being quarantined at the Pinnawala quarantine centre tested positive for COVID-19 after being admitted to the Kegalle Hospital.
The number of COVID-19 cases reported in Sri Lanka rose to 5,170 on 16 October, after 130 more COVID-19 infected persons were identified. According to the Health Promotion Bureau, 1,899 COVID-19 patients are still receiving treatment, while 293 suspected COVID-19 patients are under observation. The total number of COVID-19 recoveries stands at 3,357.