On Friday, May 1, authorities extended the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, which was scheduled to be lifted on Monday, May 4. A curfew will be in place nationwide from 20:00 to 05:00 (local time) on Monday, until Wednesday, May 6, except for the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, and Puttalam where the curfew will remain in place until Monday, May 11. The districts where the curfew will be in place for longer have been identified as "High Risk Zones".
The curfew prohibits travel between districts except for individuals providing essential services and travel to and from work. The government has also designated Kandy and Jaffna as "High Risk Zones". As a result, individuals in these areas are prohibited from leaving their homes except for buying essential goods and services. Police have detained at least 30,000 people for violating restrictions since they were introduced. All schools, universities, educational institutions, and cinemas are closed until further notice.
Additionally, the President's Media Division announced on Sunday, April 26, that people would be allowed out to purchase essential supplies based on the last digit of their National Identity Card (NIC). Those whose NICs end in the digits one or two will be allowed out on Mondays, those ending in three or four on Tuesdays, those ending in five or six on Wednesdays, those ending in seven or eight on Thursdays, and those ending in nine or zero on Fridays.
Separately, on Saturday, April 25, Sri Lankan Airlines announced an extension to the suspension of passenger flights through Friday, May 15, due to COVID-19 restrictions and the indefinite closure of all international airports nationwide. The initial suspension was implemented on Wednesday, April 8, and originally due to expire on Tuesday, April 21. The company stated that repatriation flights will still be arranged on a case-by-case basis, and cargo transport for essential medical supplies and services will continue. Meanwhile, only departing flights with passengers originating from Colombo will be allowed to operate under the restriction; emergency diversions, technical landings, and freighter operations will also be allowed. Authorities have banned cruise ship passengers from disembarking in Sri Lanka until further notice.
The National Election Commission announced that the parliamentary elections, initially scheduled for Saturday, April 25, will now be held on Saturday, June 20.
As of Sunday, May 3, there have been 705 confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases nationwide, with seven associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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