Sri Lanka COVID-19 fatalities increase to 69

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COLOMBO – Sri Lanka recorded three more COVID-19 related fatalities on Wednesday (18), two of the deaths occurring at home, taking the country’s novel coronavirus death toll to 69.  Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 tally also increased to 18,400 with the confirmation of  325 new cases.

The Department of Government Information in a statement announcing the multiple deaths, identified the deceased as a 70-year-old male from Kandana, a 74-year-old woman from Colombo 12 and a 48-year-old male from Colombo 13.

The statement said the 70-year-old male from Kandana had died at home and determined the cause of death to be complications arising from diabetes COVID-19 infection, while the 74-year-old woman from Colombo 12, who had been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive had died at the Homagama Base Hospital where she was being treated. The cause of death was determined to be diabetes, high blood pressure and COVID-19 related lung infection.  The third death, the 48-year-old male from Colombo 13 who died at home, was determined to be complications arising from diabetes aggravated by COVID- 19 infection.

The statement said Director General of Health Services, Dr. Asela Gunawardena, had confirmed all three deaths to be COVID-19 related, taking the COVID fatality count to 69.

Fifty five deaths have now been officially recorded since October 24, many of them at home, since the emergence of a new and more virulent strain of the virus in a new cluster in Minuwangoda, with the apparel factory in the area as the epicentre earlier in the month.  Since then the cluster has seen sub-clusters in several parts of the country, with the largest case load reported from the Peliyagoda fish market. As of Wednesday, the Minuwangoda/Peliyagoda cluster had recorded 14,893cases with 325 cases testing positive for the virus during the course of the day.

According to the Department of Government Information daily update, all of Wednesday’s confirmations are linked to the Peliyagoda cluster and take Sri Lanka’s novel coronavirus count to 18,400 with 12,587 being deemed recovered and discharged under the new health ministry guidelines that don’t require multiple PCR tests, and 5,744 receiving treatment at various designated hospitals across the country.

In a related development, Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi told Parliament on Wednesday former Director General Health Services, Dr. Anil Jasinghe, will be brought back to the government’s official COVID-19 meetings, strengthening the country’s fight against the ongoing second wave of COVID-19.

Wanniarachchi was responding to a question raised by opposition MP Hesha Withanage about the involvement or lack thereof of Dr. Jasinghe who was at the forefront of the country’s efforts to contain the pandemic from March onwards, but was surprisingly elevated to the post of  Secretary, Ministry of Environment, on August 13. His replacement,  Dr. Asela Gunawardena was not appointed until October 27.

Responding to questions about the strategies followed to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak, Wanniarachchi claimed the World Health Organization in its guidelines communicated to the ministry does not recommend closing the entire country anymore even when patients continue to be discovered. “We have to live with the virus for two or three years and closing the whole country is not possible every time,” the minister said.

-ENCL

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