Sri Lanka to stop quarantining first Coronavirus contacts at centres

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will halt institutional quarantine of first contacts of confirmed Coroanvirus patients but ask them to home quarantine and hope that they will not infect neighbhours, the island’s anti-Coronavirus task force chief General Shavendra Silva said.

The new process had received approval from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, he said.

“Until today all first contacts of a confirmed patient was taken to a quarantine centre,” General Silva said.

“But in the future, the first contacts will be home quarantined. When home quarantining we hope that they will stay at home and engage in quarantine. We expect they will not go out, and be a threat to their neighbhours or society.”

“We appeal to everyone to stay at home and engage in quarantine.”

Out of 280 confirmed patients in Sri Lanka on October 26, 15 were from contacts in quarantine centres.

The new procedure is a radical departure from the process followed by the most successful countries like Vietnam which has completely killed the epidemic and had only one outbreak in August 2020.

In the first week of October hundreds of first contacts from the Brandix Minuwangoda factory went missing after they were told to go home and wait for results to come. Eventually over 1,000 persons tested positive initially and later at quarantine centres.

But other countries like Korea which have less tight processes have outbreaks on a continuous basis.

South Korea reported 119 cases on October 26 while Vietnam had 01 foreign arrival. South Korea however has wide access for voluntary testing. Up to 2.5 million tests have been done so far.

In Sri Lanka testing is tightly controlled.

South Korea which has a population of 51 million and is an OECD country has had reported 25,955 cases and 457 deaths.

Korea has extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy to supply oxygen directly to the blood for patients whose lungs are too damaged to for mechanical ventilators to help and continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT) a type of permanent dialysis when kidneys fail.

Vietnam, which has a population of 97 million has reported 1,161 cases up to October 26 and 35 deaths, all in the July – August outbreak, which has now been stamped out.

Home quarantine increases the likelihood that all family members of contacts who had not initially developed the disease, including older people are infected and have to be hospitalized, observers say.

The risk can be reduced through monitoring and more frequent testing. (Colombo/Oct29/2020)

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