Colombo, Oct 7 (efe-epa).- The Sri Lankan government has imposed partial curfew in parts of the country and banned public gatherings after health authorities detected a new virus cluster in the western province of the island, officials said on Wednesday.
The island nation recorded 196 Covid-19 patients on Wednesday, bringing the total number of new infections since Sunday to 1,028, according to the health ministry.
The restrictions were extended to two suburbs in the north-east of the capital Colombo since the majority of the newly infected persons live there.
The authorities have shut down schools and universities in the areas and partially banned public transport in a bid to contain the outbreak.
The new coronavirus cluster is the largest reported so far on the island nation, and the authorities are aggressively contact-tracing for more possible infected people, the ministry said.
Chief epidemiologist of the health ministry Sudath Samaraweera told media that possibilities of the transmission of the virus from one person to another in the newfound cluster were higher than earlier reported hotspots.
“We found Covid-19 positive cases in naval camps, which was the largest cluster before this. But these patients did not come out into the public. Therefore, we were able to control it effectively,” Samaraweera said.
He said the new cluster was different as all the patients were out in the community and may have created many contacts that need to be traced by the authorities.
Sri Lanka had earlier reported and successfully curbed two large Covid-19 clusters – one in the Sri Lanka Navy and another in a drug rehabilitation center.
Authorities traced the new cluster to an apparel manufacturing company named Brandix in Minuwangoda of the western provincial Gampaha district.
The firm had actively exported face masks during the past few months.
The new patients are employees of the garment factory that since the outbreak has urged the workers to self-isolate.
The government ordered several measures to combat the outbreak and urged people to avoid large gatherings, social distancing, and limiting travel to essential needs only.
According to statistics by the health ministry, the island nation has so far recorded 4,448 Covid-19 cases and 13 deaths. Some 1,160 patients are currently being treated.
The Indian Ocean island nation went into lockdown on mid-March soon after the initial outbreak of the pandemic.
The lockdown was eased in May to encourage people to go to work and help rebuild economic growth. EFE-EPA