Sri Lanka placed on lockdown as Covid-19 cases spike

Sri Lanka has imposed a 10-day lockdown allowing only essential services to operate as authorities battle to contain a wave of Delta variant cases.

During the lockdown, which kicked in at 22.00 on Friday (August 20) and will last until 04.00 on August 30, all public and private sector establishments are closed, with only essential and emergency services allowed to remain open.

Sri Lanka entered lockdown on Friday as Covid surge overwhelms the country’s healthcare system; Colombo Fort Railway Station pictured

Sri Lankan authorities has since last Monday imposed an indefinite nationwide night curfew from 22.00 to 04.00 daily, along with a ban on social gatherings, public events and seminars.

The latest lockdown follows appeals from the medical profession, trade unions, civil society groups and Buddhist religious dignitaries for tighter mobility restrictions in the face of worsening Covid-19 case numbers.

On Friday (August 20), Sri Lanka reported a record daily rise in Covid-19 cases for the third consecutive day, reporting 3,839 new cases, up from 3,435 a day on August 15; with 195 deaths. The new infections bring the total tally to 381,812 and 6,985 deaths.

Opposition parties and trade unions in the country have accused the government of under-reporting the number of Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Tourism (SLT) officials said only fully vaccinated Indians would be allowed entry into Sri Lanka, in effect since August 19. India is Sri Lanka’s biggest source market but the rising number of Covid-19 cases in India has led to this cautious approach.

In a statement, SLT said that Sri Lanka will continue welcoming international travellers during the lockdown with majority of the tourist attractions to remain open. Since ​reopening to tourism in January this year up to July 31, the country has received a mere 19,337 arrivals, a sharp drop from last year.

In another circular, SLT said nationals of South American countries and South African countries – South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe – are not allowed entry into Sri Lanka.

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