Sri Lanka to lift lockdown as government devises ways to recover from pandemic

Sri Lanka to lift lockdown as government devises ways to recover from pandemic
Firefighters spray disinfectants along a street in Colombo as the Sri Lankan government expects to reopen the country after almost two months locked down. (Reuters)
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Updated 11 May 2020

Sri Lanka to lift lockdown as government devises ways to recover from pandemic

Sri Lanka to lift lockdown as government devises ways to recover from pandemic
  • Sri Lanka imposed a total lockdown on March 22 to counter the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, which was traced to a Chinese tourist from Wuhan who traveled to the country in late January

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka said it will lift its 49-day lockdown from tomorrow, but the government has urged people to adhere to all anti-virus guidelines to ensure the curve stays flat.
“When you go out of your home, please be determined that you come home safely without contracting the virus,” Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff, Commander of the Army and Head of the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO), said during a TV interview on Sunday.
Sri Lanka imposed a total lockdown on March 22 to counter the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, which was traced to a Chinese tourist from Wuhan who traveled to the country in late January.
More than a month and a half later, the lifting of the curfew will allow public and private sector offices to resume work on Monday, with a decision on the reopening of schools and universities to be taken next week, Education Minister Dulles Allaperuma told Arab News.
Commending the progress made in tackling the crisis, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the curfew was being relaxed since the situation was under control due to the help extended by the health authorities, armed forces and the police.
“The spread of the coronavirus has now been brought under control to a great extent. The public needs to adhere to the strict health safety guidelines to ensure the systematic eradication of the deadly disease from Sri Lanka,” Dr. Anil Jasingha, director general of health services, said.

HIGHLIGHT

Officials urge residents to continue with anti-coronavirus practices.

As of Sunday, 847 coronavirus patients were being treated at various hospitals, with 321 recoveries and nine deaths reported thus far.
In a statement released on Sunday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the country’s economy had plummeted due to the lockdown while the tourism industry had also been severely hit.
With the curfew lifted, it could provide the country with “new opportunities to attract tourists from countries where the COVID–19 virus has subsided.”
“Medical tourism can be promoted by highlighting the capabilities of an indigenous medical system which was used for the treatment of virus-infected people. To encourage high-spending tourists, visas will be issued supplemented by an internationally recognized certificate,” he said.


Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
A view of Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit, with a rocket underneath the wing of a modified Boeing 747 jetliner, during test launch of its high-altitude launch system for satellites from Mojave, California, U.S. January 17, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 January 2021

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
  • The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats

LOS ANGELES: Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reached space on Sunday, eight months after the first demonstration flight of its air-launched rocket system failed, the company said.
A 70-foot-long (21.34-meter-long) LauncherOne rocket was released from beneath the wing of a Boeing 747 carrier aircraft off the coast of Southern California, ignited moments later and soared toward space.
The two-stage rocket carried a cluster of very small satellites known as CubeSats developed and built as part of a NASA educational program involving US universities.
The launch occurred after the Boeing 747-400 took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles and flew out over the Pacific Ocean to a drop point beyond the Channel Islands.
“According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit!” Virgin Orbit tweeted later. “Everyone on the team who is not in mission control right now is going absolutely bonkers.”
The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats.
The flight developments were announced on social media. The launch was not publicly livestreamed.
Virgin Orbit, based in Long Beach, California, is part of a wave of companies targeting the launch market for increasingly capable small satellites, which may range in sizes comparable to a toaster on up to a home refrigerator.
Competitor Rocket Lab, also headquartered in Long Beach, has deployed 96 payloads in 17 launches of its Electron rocket from a site in New Zealand. Another of its rockets was nearing launch Sunday.
Virgin Orbit touts the flexibility of its capability to begin its missions by using airports around the globe.
Virgin Orbit attempted its first demonstration launch in May 2020.
The rocket was released and ignited but only briefly flew under power before it stopped thrusting. The lost payload was only a test satellite.
The company later said an investigation determined there was a breach in a high-pressure line carrying cryogenic liquid oxygen to the first-stage combustion chamber.
Virgin Orbit is separate from Virgin Galactic, the company founded by Branson to carry passengers on suborbital hops in which they will experience the sensations and sights of spaceflight.
Virgin Galactic expects to begin commercial operations this year in southern New Mexico.