In the wake of the rapid outbreak of the Minuwangoda COVID-19 cluster to over 2000, the government and apparel factory owners in free trade zones have been urged to increase PCR tests to control the spread of the Corona contagion.

Forty more cases of COVID-19 infections have been reported from the Minuwangoda cluster, stated Commander of Army Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva adding that the cluster has grown to 2,162 cases.

In a letter to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union has demanded to instruct all employers of BOI factories to have their employees tested for COVID-19 to prevent the community spread of the deadly virus.

The Manufacturers’ Association in Katunayake FTZ has offered to establish a PCR testing Unit immediately for the FTZ and is still awaiting approval from the Ministry of Health.

The Joint Secretary of the Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union, Anton Marcus has expressed dismay over the delay of the Health Ministry in endorsing the establishment of  this testing unit.

The inability to immediately test all employees in the Katunayake FTZ allows for continued spread, not among only employees but among many others in areas they reside as lodgers as well, he added.

Further, PCR tests are delayed by over 48 hours due to the heavy load at present.

As such, he said that it would be pertinent to approve the offer made by the Katunayake Manufacturers’ Association to immediately establish a PCR testing unit at the FTZ.

There was also the issue of BOI officials completely neglecting the decision taken by the Tripartite Task Force at the Labour Ministry to carry out disinfection of all lodgings occupied by FTZ workers, as a preventive measure, he disclosed.

These lapses have already caused an unwanted spread of the COVID-19 virus in the Katunayake area, for which the union blamed the BOI for its inaction and irresponsibility.

The Union appealed to the Prime Minister to immediately intervene and to provide approval for the very opportune and responsible offer by Katunayake Manufacturers’ Association to establish a PCR testing Unit in Katunayake.

The Premier has also been urged to instruct the BOI to begin disinfecting all lodgings occupied by FTZ workers.