Infection spreading among inmates and returning migrants
by Melani Manel Perera

Centrally located on the island, the Kandakadu Rehab Centre has become a COVID-19 cluster, with 629 people infected. About 50,000 Sri Lankans have lost their jobs abroad from lockdowns and plan to come home.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The number of people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus continues to rise in Sri Lanka, especially at one rehab centre and from the growing number of Sri Lankan migrants coming home.

Overall, some 2,984 cases have been reported in the country with 12 deaths. The authorities yesterday added ten more cases at the Kandakadu Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre and two cases involving Sri Lankans returning from the Maldives.

The possible spread in correctional and other facilities is of great concern. The Kandakadu centre, which is centrally located, has become a COVID-19 cluster with 629 people.

Opened in 2010 to re-educate former Tamil Tigers terrorists and fighters, it was repurposed to treat drug and other addicts.

So far, at least 508 residents have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2, plus 67 staff members, 5 teachers, 48 ​​relatives and associates, as well as a prisoner from Welikada prison.

At a press conference, the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, General Shavendra Silva, noted that another source of contagion are Sri Lankans or foreigners coming from countries affected by COVID-19.

Because of lockdowns abroad, some 50,000 Sri Lankans have lost their jobs, especially in the Persian Gulf, and are trying to come home.

The government plans to repatriate them, but is now concerned that, in addition to its cost, the operation might see returnees spread the virus

For this reason, General Silva has urged Sri Lankans to remain alert and not let their guard down.

During the recent election campaign, many people failed to wear a mask and maintain social distancing.

In view of this, the general warned that “Whilst the virus is not spreading among communities in Sri Lanka at the moment, the threat of that happening cannot be ruled out”.