COLOMBO, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- The Sri Lankan police on Thursday imposed a curfew in Katunayake in the outskirts of capital Colomo, as the number of COVID-19 cases saw a sudden spike in recent days due to the detection of a new cluster in Minuwangoda, some 24 km away from Colombo.
The police said in a statement that the curfew was imposed in Katunayake from 5:00 a.m. local time Thursday and would remain in place until further notice.
Army commander and head of the National Operation Center for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak, Lt. General Shavendra Silva said that although the curfew was in effect, factories in the Katunayake free trade zone could operate and the employees could use their service identity cards as a curfew license.
On Wednesday, 130 new COVID-19 patients were detected from the new cluster in Minuwangoda, which came to light after a 39-year-old female apparel factory worker and her 16-year-old daughter tested positive on Oct. 4.
Following this detection, thousands of PCR tests were conducted in the Minuwangoda area and other areas and till Wednesday evening, 1,721 patients had tested positive from the new cluster.
The army said contact tracing was ongoing and a curfew, which was imposed in Gampaha and a few other areas from Oct. 4 would remain in place.
Till Thursday morning, Sri Lanka's overall COVID-19 patient count reached 5,170 since the first local patient was detected in March. Out of this, 3,357 patients have recovered and been discharged.
Following the rapid increase of patients from the Minuwangoda cluster, authorities have urged the public to strictly maintain all health guidelines including wearing face masks, maintaining social distance, and keeping hands sanitized.
Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said anyone breaking these rules will be arrested.
The army commander said a community spread of COVID-19 had not yet begun in the country but health authorities said thousands of PCR tests will be conducted randomly in the coming days to find out if such a spread had begun.
Sri Lanka has recorded 13 deaths from the virus. Enditem