Curfew Imposed in Gampaha District
By Dilanthi Jayamanne, Thameenah Razeek, Tharaka Samman and Paneetha Ameresekere
Police curfew was imposed in the whole of the Gampaha District from yesterday (21) night 10:00 p.m. and will be in effect until 5:00 a.m. on 26 October.
Police Spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana, said all residents in the District were to remain indoors, while no one was permitted to travel unless under exceptional circumstances.
However, if a person falls ill or shows symptoms that are unrelated to COVID-19, they will be permitted to go to the nearest hospital. Students sitting for the Advanced Level Examination will also be permitted to use their admission card as a curfew pass.
Also, employees affiliated to factories in the District where operations should continue throughout the day (employees of factories under the Board of Investment) and employees attached to essential services are permitted to commute during this time.
Also, he noted that factories must employ the service of a transport service to convey its employees to work. All employees reporting to work must have their official identification card with them at all times.
Vehicles will be able to travel across the District, but they will not be able to stop within it.
Also, a total of 513 persons were arrested for violating regulations since 4 October, while 63 vehicles have also been seized. A total of 125 individuals were arrested during the past 48 hours in the District for violating Police curfew. DIG Rohana, yesterday, said curfew is presently in effect in 24 Police areas, including in 19 Police areas in the Gampaha District and five Police areas of the Kuliyapitiya Division, since the detection of the Minuwangoda cluster. DIG Rohana also requested the public to provide details if health officials or security forces ask for information.
Meanwhile, Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Samaraweera, stressed that the Health Ministry and the Government had continued to provide accurate data regarding the current COVID-19 situation to the public. “There have been comments made over social media regarding the accuracy of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and the statistics provided by Government authorities regarding them. Similar doubts and comments were raised by the public during the COVID-19 situation prior to the General Election.” He said the danger of the situation was that it would prompt people to violate health safety regulations and move around within the District without inhibitions over their health safety, which would only result in further increasing the number of patients being detected.
However, former Director of the Epidemiology Unit, Dr. Nihal Abeysinghe, claimed the spread of COVID-19 increased as the Government concealed the truth about the situation from the very beginning and did not take steps to make the public aware of it. “The Government has continuously said there was nothing to be afraid of and that they would not allow the virus to spread. A general impression was given that the situation was under control, which resulted in people losing their fear of COVID-19,” he said.
He also blamed the Government for failing to pay attention to the COVID-19 situation in India, which was another reason for the build-up of this crisis situation. “The Government didn’t pay attention to India’s situation, despite its seriousness, and thereby failed to realise that it would affect us too. This was another reason that caused the second wave.”
Elsewhere, Chief of the National Operation Centre for the Prevention of the COVID-19 Outbreak, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, said in the present situation, the virus had spread as a result of two weddings. He, therefore, urged the public to refrain from organising ceremonies and parties where there were large gatherings, and noted that it was also best if people refrained from participating in these events.
Further, the Peliyagoda Fish Market has been closed, after 49 persons working at the Market tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday. The health authorities had conducted random PCR tests on 100 persons at the Market on 19 October. The Kelaniya Public Health Inspector said the 49 COVID-19 infected persons were residents of various parts of the country and that investigations were underway to find out how they contracted the virus. Around 500 PCR tests were conducted on market workers yesterday. Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda, yesterday, temporarily closed the Market. During its closure, it will be disinfected, the Fisheries Ministry added.
Moreover, according to the OIC of the Pettah Police, Manning Market was also closed since yesterday night till 6:00 a.m. on 26 October as a precautionary measure, owing to the large numbers gathering there.
Furthermore, two patients from Medical Wards 53 and 56 of the National Hospital were identified as COVID-19 patients, after PCR tests were conducted on them. Hospital sources said, however, that the wards had not been closed as a result. However, the duo had been transferred to treatment centres.
A shop owner at the Meegoda Economic Centre has also tested positive for COVID-19. PCR tests conducted at the Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital had confirmed that he had contracted the virus. Later, he had been admitted to the Infectious Diseases Hospital, the Godagama Medical Officer of Health, K.G.S. Mayuratissa said. The shop at the Meegoda Economic Centre has been closed, and about 15 people, including the family members of the COVID-19 patient, have been directed to quarantine.
An employee of the Teaching Hospital Kalubowila too tested positive for COVID-19. He is said to have had fever when reporting to work on 15 October and the PCR test returned a positive result, Hospital sources said. The individual is said to be a resident of Dehiwala. PCR tests have been conducted on 16 staff members who had contact with him, they added.
Meanwhile, the Government, last night, declared the following Grama Niladhari Divisions in Agalawatta Divisional Secretariat, such as Gorokgoda, Beragama, Dapiligoda and Kakulandara North in the Kalutara District as isolated areas.
In addition, Bellana area in Palinda Nuwara Divisional Secretariat was also declared an isolated area.