Sri Lanka has managed to control the spread of Covid-19 pandemic so far. All the patients reported recently have been limited to foreign repatriates and foreign nationals returning to the island, and the country is laboriously crawling back to normalcy.
In this background, a viral post claimed that Covid-19 patients would have been identified at Cinnamon Red Hotel in Colombo and armed soldiers were stationed for guard duties and a number of people have entered the hotel with protective kits. This post was extensively shared especially on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp.
Below is a screenshot of one such message.
We carried out a Google Keyword search to find out authenticity of these posts and came across a few media reports related to the temporary closure of the hotel for public. In a report dated 3rd September, Daily Mirror reported quoting Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni that the Cinnamon Red in Colombo has already been taken as a paid isolation center while discussions are in progress to obtain facilities of the Best Western Elyon Hotel as well. Below is the full news report.
We checked the social media handles of Cinnamon Red and observed the following statement by the hotel management posted on their official Facebook page.
“Cinnamon Red Colombo is currently reserved for the exclusive use of seafaring operations, and will not be undertaking any reservations for rooms or restaurants until further notice.
However, the Hotel will honour vouchers issued for stays at Cinnamon Red Colombo, by providing alternative accommodation at Cinnamon’s two premier properties Cinnamon Grand Colombo and Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo, which are in close proximity to Cinnamon Red Colombo.
Guests also have the facility to make reservations at these respective Hotels”
After contacting hotel digital media division, we were informed that Avant Garde Maritime Services is carrying out the operation and we contacted them to obtain more information. The officer who got in touch with us confirmed that Cinnamon Red Colombo had been turned into an isolation center operated by Avant Garde Maritime Services in collaboration with Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Ltd, a company affiliated to Ministry of Defense to facilitate crew rotation of ships. He explained that change of crew for ships is taking place in Colombo port and crew disembark has to face a PCR test at the port and afterwards they are brought to Cinnamon Red Colombo for isolation.
He further clarified that this operation is carried out as per WHO specified standards and hence these crews embarking and disembarking have to be wearing personal protective kits (PPEs), to ensure that they do not get exposed to the public. Once the PCR results are known the crewmembers who had tested negative are sent home or sent as replacements go to Colombo port to board their ships. If a crewmember is tested positive, they would be hospitalized for treatment. He went to state that armed troops are present at the hotel premises to ensure that these crewmembers do not leave the isolation center.
Our fact checked revealed that Cinnamon Red Colombo had recently turned into an isolation center to facilitate seafaring operations of crew rotation for ships. Hence, social media reports claiming that Covid-19 patients could have been detected at Cinnamon Red Colombo and hence the hotel has been closed down are misleading in nature.
Title:Cinnamon Red has been closed for public since it was turned into an isolation center to facilitate seafaring operationsFact Check By: Sathyajith Subasinghe