10 August, 2022


Major Surge In Lanka’s Coronavirus Cases; Govt Asks ICRC For 1000 Body-Bags

Seven days after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Government decided to lift the curfew in most districts around the island Sri Lanka’s Covid-19 infections recorded the steepest rise since the first local case was detected on March 10.

By the end of day on 26 April the caseload had increased to 523 with 63 patients reported in the 24 hour period.

(Image source – HPB Sri Lanka)

Amid the major surge in cases Health Ministry correspondence with the ICRC forensics department requesting 1000 body-bags leaked on Sunday. The letter from MoH additional secretary Dr Sunil De Alwis was initially denied as a fake but the official eventually admitted the letter had been sent and the bodybags requested for use in the future.

Colombo Telegraph learns that the body bags are being used to transport the bodies of persons who have died of Covid-19 to the crematorium.

The Health Ministry has lodged an official complaint to the Police asking for an inquiry about how the internal communication became public.

In just five days the number of cases increased from 304-523, indicating that Sri Lanka’s curve which should have been flattening after over a month of lockdown, was on an upward trajectory.

The biggest cluster of new infections have centered around the Welisara Navy camp where 70 sailors have already tested positive. The entire camp has been placed in quarantine. But the Sri Lanka Navy has also reported 27 other positive cases bringing the total to 97 infections in the Navy alone.

(Image source – HPB Sri Lanka)

The Army has cancelled home leave for all its personnel and ordered them back to camps in order to prevent community spread in their home villages.

In a desperate rush to create an atmosphere of normalcy in order to ensure an election can be held in May the Government decided to lift the curfew in most districts around the country and reopen public and private offices.

Crowds of people have thronged the public markets and public transport has been packed to capacity making it impossible to enforce the Government’s social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

The curfew is still in place in Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara and Puttalam. The Government planned to lift the curfew in these high risk districts that have seen the worst infection numbers on 23 April, but quickly shifted plans when a spate of new infections were reported on April 20th the day the country re-opened in other districts.

Curfew due to be lifted on April 27 in Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara has been further extended till May 4. (Chinthika de Silva) 

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Latest comments

  • 14

    KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

    Where are you?
    Hope you are alright.
    What does body bag signify?

    No one knows the names and details of those who were quarantined between Jan 2020 and now. No one knows the names and details of those who were released between Jan 2020 and now.
    Many of us know from past not many of those who entered the premises of armed forces never returned.

    You should have counted the victims in then counted them out.

    Do you think body bags enhances the chances of National Hangman winning 2/3?

    You have been missing for a while any chance you been employed to deal with unaccounted corpses?

    • 7

      Surely a young fellow as well informed as you must have heard of the terrible epidemic of rat fever that is sweeping the country. Even some grease yakkas have been infected, I hear. Rat fever is so contagious that the corpses have to be cremated in body bags. Show some patriotism please.

  • 12

    Why is the letter a secret unless the number of deaths are a secret and the bodies are being secretly and immediately cremated? Are the crematoriums accepting bodies in bags with no family present, for quick cremation? And if so how do we know if Victims who did not die of Corona too are going to be quickly cremated. Cremation means no future exhumations or post-mortems.

    • 10

      President Gota and Mahinda Family are number 1 liars, cheaters and if necessary they can make lots of missing people. They have had good experiences on this matter with white vans. Once you are missing, missing and they don’t talk about past.
      WHO president congratulated him for his performance knowing their past. I don’t think the Corona will not kill many as thousands but there are lot of barriers for them in getting two third majority and having the elections. The funniest thing is that military is the one getting Corona more and more now. They have cancelled all their leave. Nobody knows what will happen to those poor military personals who got this virus. Now, It is a military dictatorship. Under a military government, there is a possibility for thousands of people missing or diving because of Corona.

  • 4

    Obviously the curfew has not worked. Even after almost 6 weeks of curfew, the infection rate has not been contained but increased. We do not know the true number of deaths & testing for the virus is negligible compared to other countries where the death rate has been higher. Back in early April, the GMOA pundits, who seemed to have taken over the advisory role on the pandemic, was confident the virus spreading was under control, even patting themselves on the back. So whats the strategy now? Is the curfew going to be indefinite until every single infected person is rounded up & quarantined?

    In Europe, the pandemic is believed to have plateaued, therefore, considering gradual easing of the lockdown. UK was badly affected & the original death toll forecasted has been exceeded but the UK govt. is concerned about the health of the people, mentally & physically, confined to the house, even without a curfew. The press & the opposition are critical of the govt.’s slow response initially, which is being blamed for the high number of deaths. The UK govt. is advised by the SAGE committee, consisting of epidemiologists & scientists but it has leaked out that two special advisers to the PM, who are non experts on the subject, have been sitting on the committee as well & the question raised is whether they have been influential in policy decisions overriding the experts’ view. In this context, who is advising the govt. of SL? Is GR capitalising on the pandemic for his own political gain but in the dark when it comes to actually combating the virus? After 6 weeks of curfew & the country in a total shutdown, what is the plan for post pandemic economic recovery with country already bankrupt? With elections round the corner, can GR come up with credible answers?

  • 10

    Subjective speculation will only help panic mongers.
    Let us be rational about the situation. The rate of spread was low, tending to asymptote in early April.
    There has been serious mishandling (perhaps in late March) that led to a rise in infection rate.
    If the government was lying about deaths then it could also lie about infection rate and suppress figures.
    It is not easy to suppress large casualty rates, although numbers could be disputed.
    Seven is a small number and let us be glad that it is that way.
    There is need for probing the spread rate, and that should be pressed.
    We love stories that fit with our prejudices; and some of us extraploate along those lines. The credibility of successive governments are so rotten that people would readily believe reckless gossip.
    This is a time for calm and to push the government in the right direction, namely to adopt a more people-friendly ‘lock-down’.

  • 5

    I don’t see any reason to worry.
    The International Committee of the Red Cross has a history of distributing standard body bags during epidemics and pandemics, to facilitate the health authorities to carry out burials or cremations in a safe and dignified manner. These body bags can also be used for others deaths.
    The new coronavirus is a ‘hit and run’ virus. It is fast and furious.
    Therefore, it is ok to “hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”

  • 1

    ” We love stories that fit with our prejudices; and some of us extraploate along those lines. “ Thanks for the confession.

    You apparently conclude that there are two sides; one is government and other one is CT commemorators. But which is you side? Sorry for asking that question; I have to ask that question because Siri Mao no longer alive. I don’t know which side you would like to stand. (If you feels shy to tell, don’t worry; we know who you are)

    ” If the government was lying about deaths then it could also lie about infection rate and suppress figures. ” Really? I never did know that! Can government suppress the infection rates too? I couldn’t believe it man that government can do it too. (How many grandchildren you put to sleep in night? you seems to have mastered the sleep time storytelling to babies)

    ” It is not easy to suppress large casualty rates, although numbers could be disputed.”
    What would be your “large casualty rates”, A 150,000 based on the internal numbers, UN Internal investigation estimate $ 70,000, A preliminary UNSG expert’s estimate 40,000

    ” Seven is a small number and let us be glad that it is that way.” Would you consider “Zero Casualty” as too larger number to report for Corona deaths?

    If Zero casualty is to large, did Lankawe considered alternative method , like Chinese Aanduwa did, to revise and reporting when President Trump insisted that 3,700 was too low for any kind of lies.

    • 1

      Back to bad habits. If you should, go to the toilet not to the keyboard.
      It is safe to go easy on the medication and the laxative.

  • 5


    “We love stories that fit with our prejudices; and some of us extraploate along those lines.”

    We also love heroic acts of our leaders, perhaps almost all old wives’ tales , …. nostalgic about the good old days, …………….. how socialism was flourishing under a particular prime minister, under whose leadership every little thing was so perfect, she could not do wrong, ….

  • 2

    SJ: Subjective speculation will only help panic mongers…
    Champa: I don’t see any reason to worry. The International Committee of the Red Cross has a history of distributing standard body bags.

    People, you are missing the whole point in a cloud of diversions. IF getting body bags from the ICRC is normal procedure and not something to panic about, then;
    1)WHY was it such a BIG SECRET to hide it in the first place?
    2) WHY was it DENIED when it leaked out, and ?
    3) WHY have a POLICE INQUIRY about the leak?
    Why all that subterfuge, denial, and wasting valuable police time when they have more important things to do? WHY?
    Please do answer those three questions before diverting the discussion into other matters. That should be a simple task if it is all bona fide
    Given the notorious history of these rulers who have been world experts at making people disappear/evaporate, should we not panic?
    Thajudeen became a murder case from being a cover-up motor accident only because there was a body to exhume and investigate.
    Cremation, eliminates that risk to the perpetrators.
    Hide, Deny, Police Case. Hide, Deny, Police Case. The bell has tolled thrice. But let’s just lie back and complacently bury our heads in the sand.

    • 2

      My comment was on speculation on matters that affect people.
      I wonder why you are troubled by it, unless you are among those spreading baseless rumors.

  • 3

    The country is facing an uphill task in coping up with the invisible enemy. Perhaps the country has not been prepared for such a calamity before it hit us. Fearing the worst, taking precautions in all fronts is not wrong. People should come together to meet the danger thrown by the pandemic. It is not the time to find fault with one another and pointing fingers at others. Are we sharpening our knives to fight an enemy who is yet to come while leaving the enemy who is already there to sweep us away?

  • 0

    Wow, few weeks ago I mentioned the word “body bags”, without realizing, soon it will be the subject matter. Anyway now Lankan Govt seems to claim, the ordered “Body Bags are to be worn , to scare the Virus”.(scare crow tactics). Novel Virus brings out Novel ideas.

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