Sri Lankan authorities have extended its nationwide curfew, which was due to expire on Monday, March 23, as a preventive measure to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Individuals in Colombo, Gampaha, Puttalam, Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, and Mannar districts will be prohibited from leaving their homes except for essential needs from 12:00 (local time) on Tuesday, March 24, until Friday, March 27, and in all other districts until Thursday, March 26.
As of Monday, March 23, Sri Lanka's Department of Immigration has announced that all types of visa issuance, as well as visas that have been granted to foreign nationals who have not arrived in Sri Lanka, will be temporarily suspended until 23:59 (local time), Tuesday, March 31.
Meanwhile, a suspension on all incoming flights remains in effect until Tuesday, March 31. Authorities have also banned cruise ship passengers from disembarking in Sri Lanka from Tuesday, March 3, until further notice.
As of Monday, March 23, health officials have confirmed at least 95 cases of COVID-19 in the country. Further international spread of the virus is to be 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 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.