The Army and the State Intelligence Service have launched a massive operation to trace down all those who have associated with the inmates at the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Center who were transferred to other prisons in the country in recent weeks and several more people will be taken into quarantine in the coming days to prevent a leak in society which can trigger a second wave of COVID-19.
A 24 hour contact tracing is ongoing to identify the people who had visited the inmates in recent days as well as those who had come in contact with the officials and workers at the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Center.
All inmates from the Center, even those who are now in other prisons as well as workers and officials, their family members and closely associated people have been taken into quarantine while relatives, friends and neighbors who are second and third contacts have been told to go into self isolation. Exact figures of those sent to quarantine to date are still unsure as the process is still ongoing, officials from the Health Ministry said.
Hundreds of PCR tests will be conducted in the coming days.
Director General of Health Services, Dr. Anil Jasingha told Daily Mirror that 339 inmates at the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Center had tested positive out of the 472 samples taken in so far. There are an estimated 600 inmates at the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Center.
"This is 71 percent of positivity. Among the patients, there are high positives and medium positives. This is a mini version of the Navy cluster. But since we detected this cluster at a time when a majority are positive this will not last long as the Navy cluster," Dr. Jasingha said.
With more PCR tests being conducted, more cases within the Center will be detected in the coming days.
However he said there are drug addicts from the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Center who had been sent to other prisons within this COVID-19 period. Then there are those who have been discharged home, workers in the Kandakadu Center who had been on leave, their families and relatives and their close associates. They are all being taken into quarantine. "So there is a process ongoing presently," Dr. Jasingha said.
While authorities are unsure who patient zero is, this cluster is also linked to Suduwella, similar to the Navy cluster. All measures have been activated to prevent a community spread and Dr. Jasingha said while chances were slim of many cases being reported within society, there maybe some unknown entities. "We cannot 100 percent rule it out. But that is why we are doing all this," he added.
Dr. Jasingha further denied rumors that a curfew will be re-imposed or schools will be shut down again. He urged people not to panic, stating that authorities had the know-how and confidence to prevent a second wave.
He further said while more people will be taken into quarantine in the coming days from several areas, people should not assume they are COVID-19 positive. "We are not hiding anything from the public and we urge people not to label those who are being taken into quarantine as COVID positive," he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer of Health from the Colombo Municipal Council, Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni told Daily Mirror yesterday that random PCR tests were continuing to be conducted in Colombo, especially on high risk groups. "Yesterday it was conducted at Crow's Island in Mattakuliya. Mainly we were targeting and focusing on high risk groups, such as three wheel drivers, cab drivers, workers etc and we are conducting the tests in areas where we feel there may be high risk people coming into the vicinity. We are mostly focusing on Colombo North, and Colombo Central. (Jamila Husain)