Sri Lanka imposes nationwide curfew to combat coronavirus pandemic

Sri Lanka has 66 confirmed cases of coronavirus

Published - March 20, 2020 01:00 pm IST - Colombo

Sri Lankan soldiers in protective clothes spray disinfectants at a railway station in Colombo. | File

Sri Lankan soldiers in protective clothes spray disinfectants at a railway station in Colombo. | File

Sri Lankan has imposed a nationwide curfew from Friday until Monday to combat the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 9,000 lives globally, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office has announced.

The curfew announcement comes a day after the country’s Election Commission announced the postponement of the parliamentary election which was scheduled for April 25. The Commission said a decision on the new date would be taken after March 25.

The country is to be placed under a curfew with effect from 6 p.m. (local time) on Friday until 6 a.m. (local time) on Monday, President Rajapaksa’s office said.

Although there were no reasons given for the announcement, it is believed that the government is keen to see restricted movement of the people in order to promote social distancing in the face of a looming threat posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The national centre tasked to prevent COVID-19 infections said out of the 66 confirmed cases so far, 25 were overseas returnees.

It said 22 of them were from Italy while two were from the U.K. and one from India.

Over 2,400 people are under quarantine which includes 27 foreign nationals, it added.

President Rajapaksa has refused to lockdown the entire country, citing economic hardships for the poor.

Sri Lankan police had previously restricted the curfew to night time in the western coastal areas, a move aimed at tracking down Italy returnees who were avoiding compulsory quarantine process.

The police said despite the curfew people were engaging in social activities, defying the need to maintain social distancing.

Countries around the world are sealing their borders and banning travel to stop the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed 9,800 lives and infected more than 232,650 people in 158 countries and territories.

In view of the rising number of the novel coronavirus cases globally, Sri Lanka on Tuesday suspended all international flights arriving in the country.

China with 80,967 infected cases and 3,248 deaths tops the list followed by Italy (41,035 cases and 3,405 deaths), Iran (18,304 infected cases and 1,284 deaths), Spain (19,077 infected cases and 831 deaths), Germany (15,320 infected cases and 44 deaths) and France (10,995 infected cases and 372 deaths).

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