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.
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.
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)