COLOMBO: With three Covid-19 infected patients being identified by Monday evening, the total cases in Sri Lanka stood at 178 at the end of the day, according to information provided by the country’s ministry of health.

The additional fortnight of quarantine was made mandatory following two persons who had completed the quarantine period testing positive for the virus two days after returning home.

Meanwhile the island nation’s apex body of physicians, the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) called upon health authorities to speed up the Covid-19 testing of some 42,000 persons who have been in contact with patients who had tested positive for the virus in the country. Sri Lanka has so far witnessed 34 recoveries and five deaths.

The nation remains under curfew and Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Puttalam, Kandy and Jaffna categorised as high risk areas undergoing indefinite closure, with traveling between districts fully prohibited.

In other areas curfew was lifted for an eight hour period for people to buy necessities. The Lankan government has extended the ‘Work from Home’ period from April 6 to 10, in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus in the country, the president’s media division (PMD) announced.

Sri Lanka’s efforts of curbing a full blown spread of the virus has been generally hailed as successful with an expectation of a decrease in numbers of new patients, following only three cases being reported on Monday. A timely and wise step taken in Sri Lanka that has helped to keep the virus spread under control, is seen as directing all those returning from overseas to quarantine centers.

With the heat in Sri Lanka expected to worsen in the days to come according to the Meteorology Department and the Sun expected to be directly over the latitudes of the country during the next week, waves of hopes are kindled in the country that the soaring heat levels will vanquish the virus which is believed not to survive extreme heat.

Lankan Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are now being carried out in many hospitals across the country to identify infections. Separately, the Lankan police denied that there is to be a total lockdown as spread by some in social media.

Police DIG Ajith Rohana told the media that rumours about a compete lockdown in the country are baseless and being investigated by the Crime Investigation Department.

In all parts of the country, food distribution is taking place, mainly by rural agricultural producers who are being supported by the government to market their produce, in a bid to prevent the rural economy from collapsing.

Sri Lanka battling with the 19 virus comes in a time frame that would have been under normal circumstances one where preparation for the April 25 parliamentary election would have been underway. While it is still unsure when the elections could be held, the National Election Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya has made a request in an official communiqué for all parties to avoid politicisation or seeking political gains from the relief distribution.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2020