In the spring, Sri Lankan authorities linked a person known as “patient 206” to at least 1,100 coronavirus infections, the Los Angeles Times reports. Authorities said the man was caught in a burglary attempt on April 5th. At the police station, the man had a fever and an injury during a burglary, which led to his being taken to hospital.
Authorities said the man received a positive test result, after which naval soldiers were sent to the man's village to get the man's contacts quarantined. However, the result was chaos and some of those quarantined fled.
“They climbed trees, they tried to jump over the fence, they tried to bathe, they tried to jump into the canal,” Admiral Jayanath Colombage said in a TV interview.
At least 900 soldiers involved in the operation became infected. In addition, about 50 civilians were infected in that cluster. The source of the other two clusters is also claimed to be patient 206. In these clusters, coronavirus infection was detected in at least 150 people.
The authorities have not elaborated on how patient 206 connects to all infections, i.e., whether cases in which the infected person has also spread the disease have been included.
The patient stepped into public view
Now, patient 206 has gone public by giving an interview to the AP news agency. In addition to the Los Angeles Times, the story has been published by the Independent, among others.
In an interview, rickshaw driver Prasad Dinesh admits a burglary. According to him, the intention was to export goods that would sell money for heroin.
Dinesh was in the hospital for a month because of a coronavirus. He says it has been difficult for him to get a job after recovering from the virus when people realize he is a patient 206.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been very harsh on drug users, which is why Dinesh believes he has become a scapegoat for most of Sri Lanka’s infections. Dinesh said in an interview that he had given up drugs during his hospital stay.
2,697 cases of infection were detected in the country
In Sri Lanka, with a population of more than 21 million, 2,697 infections have been reported, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University. Virus-related deaths have been reported 11.
Deutsche Welle said in May that Sri Lanka had managed to keep the epidemic under control because the country is undergoing low-threshold coronavirus testing and has a functioning health care system and surveillance system to monitor those exposed and sick.
- The first case became apparent in Sri Lanka in the last week of January, after which new cases were not detected until mid-March. During this period, the government ensured that public health surveillance was activated to detect all cases where the patient had a respiratory illness. Once the cases were identified, we took the necessary steps to rule out the possibility of covid-19 disease, said Razia Pendse, a WHO representative in the World Health Organization in Sri Lanka.