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Curfews back in Sri Lanka as spike of coronavirus infections hits island

File photograph: Armed soldiers patrol the North-East during the initial coronavirus outbreak earlier this year.

The Sri Lankan government has declared another set of curfews and banned all public gatherings across the island, after a cluster of more than 1,000 positive coronavirus infections this week, with the security forces warning that action would be taken against those that break government orders.

Sri Lankan health authorities confirmed on Wednesday that an outbreak ntered around a garment factory in the capital's suburbs has risen to 1,022 confirmed infections. More than 1,500 people have also reportedly been asked to quarantine at their homes.

In response, authorities have imposed a curfew in the Seeduwa police area in the Gampaha district, with public gatherings such as “exhibitions, parties, conferences, indoor or outdoor events, carnivals, musical shows and processions” banned.

The Sri Lankan security forces, who stand accused of several human rights abuses, warned of action against those who breach the rules, with tens of thousands of people arrested earlier this year over alleged curfew violations.

The police already thrust themselves into action today, as they launched a manhunt for a reportedly positive coronavirus patient who “escaped” from the Colombo North Teaching Hospital in Ragama. The 62-year-old man has had his photograph published in newspapers and on TV channels, with the police threatening to take action against those that may be aiding the patient in his reported escape.

The military has also reported that it has continued to ensure all arrivals on the island are sent to controversial quarantine centres, set up largely in the Tamil North-East, with hundreds sent to one such centre earlier today.

File photograph: An ambulance arrives at a military run 'quarantine centre' in Vavuniya earlier this year.

In the North-East, twenty people have been imposed into isolation following contact with two women travelling to Punguduthivu from the South.

The female employees of the Brandix garment factory in Minuwangoda, originally from Punguduthivu, had returned to their home town last week by bus on separate occasions.

Last night, one of the women was officialy diagnosed with COVID-19. All individuals that could have been in contact with the woman in the last 4 days have since been placed into isolation. A total of 20 people including the two women have been placed in isolation, following directions from the Vemanai Health Medical Officer.

For over two months, Sri Lanka officials claimed to have prevented a community spread of the coronavirus. The government’s coronavirus task force has been led by accused war criminal and head of the Sri Lankan army Shavendra Silva.

Silva at a Sri Lankan military run quarantine centre earlier this year.

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