On 31st December 2019, Chinese health authorities have alerted the World Health Organization about several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City of Hubei Province due to a virus previously unknown. One week later, on 7th January 2020, it was confirmed that the causative organism for the illness is a coronavirus and this was named as “2019-nCoV” (novel coronavirus). Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses transmitted between animals and people. They can cause illness ranging from common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The 2019-nCoV can be transmitted from one individual to another. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, cough, fever, sore throat, shortness of breathing & breathing difficulties.
The Government of Sri Lanka has made certain arrangements at all the ports of entry which may bring-in infections to the country. Four thermal detection machines installed at BIA & Palali were being used to screen all passengers arriving in the country, with both doctors and PHIs placed on duty at the airport.
When a passenger from mainland China enters the country through these ports, a declaration form will be given to this passenger. The passengers need to fill this declaration form which the data will be entered to the nCoV surveillance system. The Epidemiology unit assign the relevant MOH based on the local address provided. The relevant MoH will be notified and the all high-risk passengers will be actively followed up by the respective PHI of the area. The system is expected to augment the routine surveillance mechanisms up to MOH levels.