Sri Lanka hotels offer to house patients and medical staff

Beleaguered hotels in Sri Lanka are offering their empty facilities as quarantine centres and accommodation for medical staff, as the country continues to see a growing number of suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases.

On Saturday, three luxury hotels – the 154 room Club Hotel Dolphin, the 150-room Citrus Waskaduwa, and the 81-room Cinnamon Blue – were offered as quarantine centres.

Club Hotel Dolphin (pictured) has offered its facilities to be used as a quarantine centre

Krishan Balendra, chairman of John Keells Holdings, which has a string of hotels across the country, said they had also written to the government on Friday to offer accommodation to medical staff working at official quarantine centres.

Sanath Ukwatte, president of The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), the country’s main association representing hotels and resorts, said members are willing to offer some select hotels as quarantine centres and to accommodate medical staff “who are working around the clock and unable to get home after their shift”.

As tourist arrivals plunge and events postponed or cancelled, some hotels in the country will close by the end of March or when tourists have left.

According to official figures, arrivals have dropped by 46 per cent to 70,754 tourists during the first 16 days of this month compared to 130,985 in the same period last year.

Sri Lanka is currently on a 78-hour curfew which began on Friday at 18.00 to prevent the spread of the virus which has affected 81 people since Sunday evening. In addition, 245 suspected patients are in hospital while another 3,086 are in 22 government-run quarantine centres. There are no deaths as yet.

Meanwhile, acts of compassion have surfaced in the travel and tourism industry, even as players suffer what many are regarding as the bleakest crisis in recent history.

Last Thursday, Carnival Corporation announced that select cruise ships from the company’s global cruise line brands, including Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises Australia, will be made available to communities for use as temporary hospitals to help address the escalating impacts of the pandemic on healthcare systems around the world.

With the continued spread of the virus expected to further strain land-based healthcare facilities, including a possible shortage of hospital beds, Carnival Corporation and its brands are calling on governments and health authorities to consider using cruise ships as temporary healthcare facilities to treat non-Covid-19 patients. As part of the offer, interested parties will be asked to cover only the essential costs of the ship’s operations while in port.

Last week also saw Group donating one million surgical masks to countries that are battling the pandemic.

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