SL records 14th COVID-19 death
By Dilanthi Jayamanne, Thameenah Razeek, Eunice Ruth, Amani Nilar and Nabiya Vaffoor
Sri Lanka recorded its 14th COVID-19 death yesterday (22), when a 53-year-old woman transferred from the Teaching Hospital (TH) of Kuliyapitiya, to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), died at its Intensive Care Unit.
The patient was admitted to the TH Kuliyapitiya on 12 October, where she was transferred to the Hospital’s ICU when her condition did not improve. A PCR test done on her at the time returned positive, and she was transferred to the NIID on 17 October, Director of the TH Kuliyapitiya, Dr. Prabhath Werawatte said.
The Government Information Department, quoting Chief Epidemiologist, Dr. Sudath Samaraweera, said the patient had died as a result of complication of her illness. He said this would be the country’s 14th COVID-19 death.
Meanwhile, Police curfew was imposed in six Police areas in the Colombo District yesterday. The areas are Mattakkuliya, Mutwal, Bloemendhal, Wellampitiya, Grandpass and Kotahena, after the identifying of COVID-19 cases from the Peliyagoda Fish Market and surrounding areas.
Police Spokesman, DIG Ajith Rohana, said the curfew will be in effect till 5:00 a.m. on 26 October, based on the recommendations of the Director General of Health Services. He urged the area residents to limit travel and to remain at home. DIG Rohana said vehicles will be allowed to travel through these areas, adding however, that vehicles will not be permitted to stop, pick or drop passengers in these areas.
Curfew was imposed in the Gampaha District from 21 October night, also effective till 5:00 a.m. on 26 October.
The Board of Investment (BoI) has meanwhile assured that the operations of BoI industries located within the Gampaha District will continue without any interruption during the curfew period. In a statement, it further said companies located in the Katunayaka, Biyagama, Wathupitiwala, Malwatta and Mirigama Export Processing Zones are expected to continue production. The BoI is in the process of issuing curfew passes as per the instructions published on the BoI website and required details could be obtained through www.investsrilanka.com.
Also, a total of four senior Police Officers were appointed yesterday to coordinate public issues and issues related to the operation of factories in the Gampaha and Colombo-North Police Divisions, where the curfew is in effect.
These appointments made by the Senior DIG in charge of the Western Province are: Kelaniya Division, Senior Superintendent of Police M.K.R.A. Gunaratne (0718591605), Gampaha Division, Assistant Superintendent of Police Thusitha Kumara (0718591610), Negombo Division, Superintendent of Police Palitha Amaratunga (0718591632), and Colombo North, SSP Niranjan Abeywardena (0718591574). DIG Rohana requested that if there are any issues regarding curfew licences or the operation of factories, they should contact these senior Police Officers for advice, adding that permission has been granted to use identity cards for essential services such as water, electricity, medical services, communications and the Media.
In addition, a total of two Customs Inspectors engaged in duty at the new container gate of the main entrance to the Colombo Port have contracted COVID-19. Thus, Customs will only offload essential goods during the next few days. Customs Spokesman and Additional Customs Director General Sunil Jayaratne said steps are being taken to send their associates to quarantine, adding that all staff were removed from the premises, with persons directed to quarantine and some to hospitals. Only food, drugs, medical equipment, raw material for factories, cement and fertiliser will be released henceforth, he said, requesting the public to refrain from visiting Customs to obtain textiles, vehicle parts and non-essential goods and to instead use online services, including for the submission of documents and payments via the online platform.
Elsewhere, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) Secretary, Dr. Senal Fernando, said the country was on the verge of a community spread of COVID-19. Fernando noted that in addition to the Minuwangoda cluster, there were several other sub clusters such as those at the Peliyagoda Fish Market, one at a Church in Kuliyapitiya, one related to a wedding held in Kuliyapitiya, one related to a wedding held in Divulapitiya, which resulted in the spread at the Hirdaramani apparel factory in Kahathuduwa and another that was emerging in Matugama. The Epidemiology Unit has sourced all these sub clusters to the Minuwangoda Brandix Facility.
He said the Epidemiology Unit should take full responsibility for its continuous claim that there is no community spread under the circumstances.
Further, Dr. Fernando urged the Parliament to refrain from politicising COVID-19, adding that although they can talk about it in Parliament, technical terms such as community spread should not be brought up in the Parliament and politicised.
Moreover, several services of the Railways Department have been suspended till further notice, while some others have suspended its services only on weekdays due to the spread of COVID-19 within the island. Media Spokesman of the Department, Nihal Rupasiri, said three railway services from Colombo to Kandy, Maradana to Beliatta and Colombo Fort to Polonnaruwa were suspended till further notice, while two trains, which travel to Kankesanturai from Colombo Fort and Mount Lavinia, will operate only on weekends. This decision was taken after monitoring the movement of commuters at the railway stations and the bookings received by the Department. Also, he said the railway services will not be available in curfew imposed areas and that the trains will not stop in Ambepussa and Negombo. However, students sitting for the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level Examination can use their admission card as a pass to travel in the train, by informing that particular railway office.