The WHO has declared the Novel Coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency. In Sri Lanka, there have been incidents in which the locals cornered Chinese nationals in the country on suspicion of Corona Virus infection. In this scenario, a girl recently returned from China visited a local hospital. This sent ripples across the country throwing open a wide range of speculations of the girl being infected with the novel corona virus.
A Sri Lankan girl, who returned 2 weeks ago from China, made a visit to Badulla hospital complaining throat pain on 5 February 2020. Social media was abuzz with this news along with photos and videos of Badulla hospital staff taking precautionary action to examine the girl in isolation.
While most of the social media posts had mentioned that the Girl was admitted to the hospital on suspicion of Coronavirus infection, few posts tried to create panic by sharing the news in a misleading way. These posts claimed that a Coronavirus infected girl was admitted to Badulla Hospital. Hence we decided to verify the content of such misleading posts before it creates panic.
Nethuki Wikramasingha posted with an image with the following caption in Sinhala ‘කොරොනා අාසාධිත අවුරුදු 21 තරුණියන් බදුල්ල රොහලට..’ which can be translated as as “Corona infected 21 year old girl is admitted to Badulla hospital”
At first, we examined news reports related to this incident. We found that almost all the news reports mentioned that the suspected patient, who recently returned from China was sent to Badulla General Hospital from Buthgamuwa Medical Office.
The main cause for the news to go viral was due to the video and images (shown below) shared claiming this is how the Badulla hospital staff prepared to examine the patient with all protective equipment.
We checked the Facebook account of Dr.Palitha Rajapaksha who had treated this patient. On the evening of 5 February, 2020, he posted the following on his Facebook timeline.
“She was vomiting when she reached Badulla hospital possibly due to staying long time inside the ambulance. Even though she had some symptoms it is not confirmed that she is suffering from Coronavirus infection”
We checked the official Facebook page of Health Promotions Bureau to get the latest updates about the Coronavirus suspects and confirmed patients. As per the report published yesterday evening the only confirmed case till 7th February was the Chinese traveler who was admitted to IDH and has recovered now, as per the Health Ministry officials. The status report had listed fourteen suspected patients as on 10am on 07.02.2020 monitored at different hospitals in the country and there was one patient listed under Badulla General Hospital as well.
We reached out to Dr. Ashan Pathirana, a registrar at Sri Lanka’s state run Health Promotion Bureau. Dr. Ashan informed us that the girl admitted at Badulla general hospital was not suffering from the novel Corona Virus. He added further, the hospital has informed them that the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction – method to detect microbial pathogens in clinical specimens) results for the girl were negative.
In order to get update on the girl’s progress, we contacted Badulla general hospital in the morning. The hospital staff informed us, “The girl was tested negative for Coronavirus, and she was administered medicines for her ailment and then discharged”.
The Sri Lankan girl, who returned from China two weeks ago, has been discharged from Badulla hospital after the tests confirmed that she was not infected with Coronavirus.
Title:Suspected Coronavirus infected girl from Badulla, discharged after tested negative for the virus…Fact Check By: Nelson Mani