Sri Lanka nabs escaped COVID-19 patient after launching manhunt

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COLOMBO, July 24 (Xinhua) — Sri Lankan authorities nabbed a COVID-19 patient on Friday hours after he had escaped from a hospital on the outskirts of the capital while receiving treatment, police said.

Early on Friday, the police and army launched a massive manhunt to catch a 41-year-old drug addict infected with COVID-19 who had escaped from the National Infectious Disease Hospital, spreading panic across Colombo, police said.

The patient, an inmate at the Kandakadu Drug Rehabilitation Center in the north central part of the country, was transferred to the National Infectious Disease Hospital in Colombo as he had tested positive for COVID-19 and needed urgent treatment.

The Kandakadu Drug Rehabilitation Center has become a COVID-19 cluster as several inmates and employees working there had tested positive for the virus in recent days.

Army commander and Head of the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO), Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, told Xinhua the patient had escaped early Friday morning and teams from police and army had been deployed to track him down.

The patient was found within hours at the Colombo National Hospital, Silva said.

Earlier in the day, police released details of the patient along with his picture and sought public assistance to locate the patient.

Police described him as having an injury to his left leg and walked with a limp.

Sri Lanka has to date reported 2,753 COVID-19 patients since the first local patient was detected in March, the Health Ministry said.

Out of the total reported, 2,094 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital while 11 deaths have been reported. Enditem

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