A day after Sri Lanka relaxed an island-wide COVID-19 lockdown, health authorities have isolated the Pragathipura area in Madiwela, Colombo, following the detection of a COVID-19 patient suspected to be carrying the fast-spreading delta variant of the virus.
Deputy Director of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath told reporters June 22 morning that the area will be isolated and close contacts of the patient will undergo PCR tests.
“Every restriction that can be imposed at the regional level is being imposed. We have not found a new variant yet, but we have information about a suspected case. All measures that can be taken at the moment have been taken without delay,” said Herath.
“We have already tested several close contacts and results are now being released. No one has tested positive yet, and we have to do exit PCRs as well at the end of the quarantine,” he added.
On June 17, Sri Lanka detected the highly transmissible Delta strain (or B.1.617.2 or Indian variant) of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in five samples collected from Colombo.
Dr Chandima Jeewandara of the University of Sri Jayawardenapura said the strain was detected in samples collected from Aramaya Place in Dematagoda. Health officials have warned that the Delta strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will become the dominant variant in Sri Lanka.
“This is the first time we found it in the community,” Jeewandara, who is Director of the Allergy Immunology and Cell Biology Unit of the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, told reporters.
“Delta is considered the most dangerous variant of the virus in the world at the moment. This can get attached to our respiratory system. Therefore, it can multiply in the body and also spread faster.
“Once it starts to spread, it’ll become the dominant variant in the country,” he said.
Health authorities have also isolated Sri Anandarama Road in Kolonnawa, the Kotawala Grama Niladhari Division in Godakawela and Kerangapokuna George Road in Mahabage from June 22 6am onward.
“Movements have to be restricted locally when a situation arises. We expect residents to cooperate on such occasions,” said Herath.
Sri Lanka detected 2,131 new COVID-19 cases on June 21, with a majority, 229, being found in the Colombo district. So far Colombo takes the lead as the district with highest number of cases, recording a total of 60,148 since March 2020.
The Gamapaha district records 44,201 cases so far, while Kalutara reports 22,730, according to official data.