Sri Lanka imposes nationwide curfew to combat coronavirus outbreak
Colombo, Mar 20 (efe-epa).- The Sri Lankan government on Friday announced a nationwide curfew across the island over the weekend to check the spread of COVID-19 cases.
The curfew will be in effect from 6 pm Friday to 6 am Monday, according to the media division of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
“Everyone is ordered to stay in their homes, and leave only for essential work. Legal action will be taken against those who go against the laws,” warned the police in a press release.
Sri Lanka has registered 59 cases of the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 9,270 people out of over 225,250 infections worldwide.
The first case was detected at the end of January, and 234 people remain hospitalized on suspicions of having contracted the virus.
Meanwhile, the opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) criticized the government for its allegedly delayed response to the pandemic.
“The government is too late in imposing this a curfew. They should have locked the country down much earlier. Now, because of public pressure, they are taking this step,” JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath told EFE.
A day before, Sri Lanka also imposed a curfew on three districts, Negombo, Puttalam and Chilaw, considered to be high risk. The restrictions began at 2 pm on Thursday and will remain in place for as long as is required.
Health officials say that those three districts are where the majority of the people who had brought the virus onto the island when they returned from Italy and South Korea.
Moreover, Sri Lanka has also postponed its parliamentary elections scheduled for April 25 due to the growing number of coronavirus infections in the country.
The elections were only announced at the start of the month, after Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa ordered the dissolution of Parliament, six months before its term was due to end.
Sri Lanka had already shut its airports to commercial passengers from any foreign country, delivering a heavy blow to the tourism sector which is crucial to the country that is still recovering from Easter Sunday attacks in April 2019.
The attacks, carried out by Islamist militants on churches and luxury hotels, had left 269 people dead, including several foreign tourists. EFE-EPA