ECONOMYNEXT – New COVID-19 clusters have been detected in five districts in Sri Lanka, health officials said, blaming “illegal” gatherings and requesting the public to minimise travel in the coming weekends.
Director General of Health Services Dr Asela Gunawardena told reporters on Friday (19) thatcluster formation was observed in Anuradhapura, Ampara, Hambantota, Matara and Galle districts over the past few days.
“Most of these are due to public gatherings such as ceremonies, funerals and other events,” Gunawardena said.
Since an inter-province travel ban was lifted on October 31, Sri Lanka has seen an increase in public gatherings disregarding the minimum number of participants the authorities have permitted for weddings, funerals and other events.
Meanwhile, media reports said 45 construction workers from India employed at a cement factory in the Mirijjawila export processing zone in Hambantota have tested positive for COVID-19.
Dr Gunawardena said if the public continues to disregard health ministry-issued guidelines, the formation of COVID-19 clusters will be inevitable.
Though new infections had dropped significantly since the third wave, the daily caseload has seen a gradual increase since early November, with over 600 cases reported from November 07 onward and over 700 from just two days later.
In a 24-hour period that ended Friday morning, 737 people tested positive for the virus, bringing total COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka to 554,459.
The death toll has gone up to 14,072 with 15 more deaths being confirmed on November 18.
“During the coming weekends many people may have decided to travel,” Public Health Inspectors (PHI) Union Chairman Upul Rohana told reporters on Thursday (18).
“There is a great danger of the virus spreading aggressively in many areas now. Therefore, I ask the general public to strictly adhere to the guidelines.”
The booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine continues to be administered in the Western and Southern provinces and the Ampara and Anuradhapura districts.
So far 163,789 have received the booster dose.
Sri Lankans over 60 years of age who have taken the second dose of any COVID-19 vaccine three months ago are eligible for the Pfizer jab. (Colombo/Nov19/2021)