Sri Lanka mulls restricting foreign arrivals to curb COVID pandemic

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Colombo, Apr 17 (PTI) Sri Lanka may place restrictions on overseas arrivals to limit the spread of coronavirus that has infected over 96,000 people and claimed more than 600 lives in the country, chief epidemiologist Sudath Samaraweera said on Saturday.

He said some 15 per cent of the positive cases reported this month have been overseas arrivals.

“We have to review our current policy on arrivals. We see most of the countries are experiencing third and fourth waves, some of them have completely shut overseas travel”, Samaraweera said.

“As we have been successful in tackling the situation locally to control it, we consider taking this move to restrict arrivals,” he said.

Sri Lanka has reported over 96,000 cases since the onset of the pandemic in March last year, with over 92,000 of them having recovered. The number of deaths stands at 615.

The country rolled out its vaccination process at the end of January with the receipt of free gift of India’s Covishield. Over 925,000 people of the total 21 million population have been vaccinated with the first jab, health officials said.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa thanked India for its generosity after he received 500,000 doses of Covishield vaccine donated by the country under the ''Neighbourhood First'' policy in January.

The gift from India is in line with India’s continued support to Sri Lanka in fighting the COVID pandemic. Four consignments of medical supplies weighing around 25 tonnes were donated by India, which also organised online experience-sharing programmes for Sri Lankan medical professionals. PTI CORR MRJ MRJ