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* Coronavirus update: COVID-19 positive cases rise to 72 in Sri Lanka
Fri, Mar 20, 2020, 08:50 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 20, Colombo: The number of people infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus in Sri Lanka has risen to 72 with the confirmation of seven more positive cases.

Health Minister Pavithra Devi Wanniarachchi said in a special statement that two more persons were confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19 coronavirus in addition to the five confirmed earlier, raising the number of COVID-19 infected people in the country so far to 72.

Four others suspected of contracting the virus are under examination. The Health Promotion Bureau said 218 suspected coronavirus cases are currently being monitored.

After the first COVID-19 infected case of a female Chinese tourist was reported in the country on 27 January, the first Sri Lankan patient, a tour guide, who provided services to a group of Italian tourists, was reported on 11th March.

Most of the reported coronavirus positive cases are Sri Lankans arrived from Italy since March 1. About 90 percent of them came to Sri Lanka after being diagnosed with COVID-19 in Italy, health officials said. Others were symptomatic 24 hours after their arrival in the country.

About 81 percent of confirmed coronavirus cases in Sri Lanka are men. Most of the cases have been reported from Gampaha District.

Among the positive cases confirmed yesterday, a patient who was treated yesterday at the Ragama Teaching Hospital was admitted to the hospital on the 16th. When he was diagnosed with the disease, all the healthcare staff who treated him were self-quarantined.

Meanwhile, Rantambe National Cadet Training Center was also declared a quarantine center. It can accommodate up to 500 people at once.

Coronavirus Medical Treatment Unit of Welikanda Base Hospital set up in 72 hours was opened last night. Up to 50 patients can be treated at once at the unit. The new treatment unit has been established on the instructions of the President, under the direction of the Director General of Health Services and the Commander of the Army. An intensive care unit has also been established here. The Polonnaruwa General Hospital and the Army had supported the construction of this unit.

A quarantine center attached to the Chilaw General Hospital was also opened this morning. Chilaw Municipal Council spent Rs. 3 million to set up the center.

With the reporting of a COVID-19 contracted person in Welimada area, the health officials through the Welimada Medical Officer of Health, have taken steps to quarantine the residents in the area in their own homes.

Meanwhile The Hatton Magistrate's Court has ordered 76 persons in the Ambagamuwa Divisional Secretariat Division to self-quarantine in their homes. Reports say that they have returned to Sri Lanka from overseas.

The Ambagamuwa Regional Medical Officer's Office states that 205 persons have been sent to self-quarantine in Nuwara Eliya.

A Sri Lankan arrived from Italy suspected of contracting the coronavirus was referred to the Coronavirus treatment unit in Kurunegala this afternoon. The patient was in self-quarantine since his arrival and developed fever on the 13th day of the quarantine period. He has informed of this to the Mahawewa Medical Officer of Health (MHO) and he was taken to the Coronavirus treatment unit today.

Meanwhile hundreds of Sri Lankans, who were on a pilgrimage to India arrived this morning in Sri Lanka on a SriLankan flight UL 122. They have been sent to quarantine centers, reports say.

It has been reported that a bicycle race was held in Dambulla area yesterday despite the orders banning large gatherings of people. According to the investigation into the incident, the police arrested the Mayor of Dambulla and another person for organizing the event and produced in the court.

It is reported that about 60 persons who had been in close association with the three COVID-19 patients found in Ratnapura recently have been sent to quarantine at home.

Around 1199 people from Puttalam, who have come from countries where the coronavirus is spreading, have gone home without quarantine. It is reported that they belong to 16 Divisional Secretariat Divisions.

The Ministry of Roads and Highways says that, authorized vehicles are allowed to use the expressways during the islandwide curfew imposed from 6 pm today till Monday (March 23) 6 am.

During the period of curfew, authorized vehicles with curfew permits, ambulances and essential service vehicles are permitted to enter the expressway.

Meanwhile, the Postal Department says all postal operations have been suspended until further notice. Parcels and postal goods from overseas will be retained at the Central Mail Exchange and will be distributed in the country when the situation turns better. Payment of allowances to elderly and sick has also been suspended.


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