Sri Lanka extends nationwide curfew to curb COVID-19 spread

Colombo: Sri Lankan authorities on Friday extended a nationwide quarantine curfew till September 21 aimed at preventing the further spread of Covid-19.

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the curfew will be lifted at 4 a.m. on September 21 after a decision made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa following a meeting with the Covid-19 Task Force, reports Xinhua news agency.

Rambukwella said the number of Covid-19 patients in the country was steadily declining and authorities were confident that Sri Lanka would once again be able to reopen without risk.

“Please adhere to the regulations, use this time to get vaccinated, stay home and wear a mask,” the Health Minister said.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva said President Rajapaksa had instructed authorities to submit a report as to what type of restrictions should be imposed if the quarantine curfew is lifted after September 21.

Sri Lanka was to lift the ongoing quarantine curfew on September 13 but extended it following a recommendation from health experts. The country is facing a rapid spread of the Delta variant with 58,656 active patients in the country and 477,636 people contracting Covid-19 since March last year. The death toll stood at 10,864.

Meanwhile, over 10 million people, above the age of 30 years, have been fully vaccinated in Sri Lanka against Covid-19 since a mass inoculation program was launched in January, the Health Ministry said on Friday.

According to the Ministry’s Epidemiology Unit, 10,211,537 people were administered with both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine across the country to date, while 13,264,806 had received the first doses, reports Xinhua news agency.

Official statistics showed that the Sinopharm vaccine was the leading jab used across the island nation. Other vaccines being administered are AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Sputnik V.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa earlier this week instructed authorities to complete vaccinating those above the age of 30 by this month. As a sufficient percentage of the targeted population had been vaccinated, authorities last week began inoculating those above 20 years of age in the Western Province as well as the Galle district.

The government said this drive will soon be launched nationwide. Sri Lanka has to date detected 477,636 positive Covid-19 cases and 10,864 deaths since March last year.

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