Second wave more contagious | Sunday Observer
Present Covid-19 virus similar to that in Europe – Study

Second wave more contagious

1 November, 2020

The Covid-19 virus that has infected over 7,000 people up to now is similar to that in Europe, according to a new study by scientists of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. This rules out that the new cluster originated from India.

The second wave of infections, with the first patient detected in a Brandix facility in Minuwangoda early this month, is considered to be a result of a virus strain more contagious than that detected earlier. Since then, the number of Covid-19 patients has passed 10,000.

The World Health Organization funded Sri Jayewardenepura University study presented to the Ministry of Health yesterday (31), found that the strain that had infected many in the country including the Minuwangoda, Peliyagoda and Colombo Municipality clusters shares a common origin.

“Unlike the Covid-19 outbreak in March-April which was due to several SARSCoV2 virus strains, the current outbreak is due to one strain, which has the mutation associated with high transmissibility”, Vice Chancellor, Sri Jayewardenepura University, Prof. Sudantha Liyanage told the Sunday Observer yesterday. He said the new strain is similar to that in Europe.

Secretary, Ministry of Health, Major General Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe said that the research conducted by Prof. Neelika Malavige and her team had revealed that the present virus is a different strain to that of the virus in patients in the Kandakadu and Navy clusters previously.

 “She is unable to say if this was the virus strain found in England or in the US because she does not have the samples from those countries. However, she is conducting further research to explore the possibility of linking this strain to another country. This is not a strain we had, but one that has come from abroad”, he added.

Scientists at the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine and Allergy, Immunology and Cell Biology Unit of the Sri Jayewardenepura University carried out the study to ascertain if the current outbreak is due to the spread of different strains, if there are certain mutations that result in the rapid spread of the virus and to investigate the relationship between the currently circulating virus strains and the previous strains in Sri Lanka.

The number of patients of the Covid-19 second wave in Sri Lanka surpassed the 7,000 mark after 137 new cases were identified by the health authorities yesterday (31) bringing the total number of cases of the recent clusters to 7,038. According to officials most of the cases were reported from Colombo and its suburbs.

The Government Information Department said 38 of the new patients identified yesterday were from quarantine centres while 99 are contacts of the Peliyagoda fish market and fisheries harbours. Nearly 4,936 cases have been reported in the country from October 20 to date. Among the cases reported yesterday were six policemen from the Borella police station and 49 workers from a factory in Wattala. It was also reported that two staffers from the Government Information Department had tested positive for Covid-19 along with two staffers of the Media Ministry.

A leading supermarket chain also said that two of its staffers at its Kottawa outlet had tested positive for Covid-19. Another journalist covering parliament sessions also tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday which was confirmed by the Director of Communications of parliament, Shan Wijetunge.

Sri Lanka also recorded its 20th Covid-19 related death yesterday (31). The deceased, a 54-year-old woman, was being treated at the National Hospital in Colombo. She had passed away on Friday (30) and subsequent PCR testing revealed that she was infected with Covid-19.

The patient was admitted to the National Hospital in Colombo on October 29 after suffering from low blood pressure and a chronic disease, Health Ministry sources said. She was a resident of Colombo 12.

At present, Sri Lanka has reported 10,424 confirmed cases of Covid-19 of which 4,399 have recovered. Six thousand and five patients continue to receive treatment at various hospitals and medical facilities across the country.