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.
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.