SriLankan Airlines extended a temporary suspension on Tuesday, April 14, for all passenger flights until Thursday, April 30, due to an indefinite closure of all international airports in Sri Lanka as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The suspension was implemented on Wednesday, April 8, and originally due to expire on Tuesday, April 21. The airline may continue to operate some departures, as well as repatriation flights at the government's request.
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 from until further notice.
A nationwide curfew remains in place as of Wednesday, April 15, until further notice in the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Puttalam, Kalutara, Kandy, and Jaffna, which the government has designated as "High Risk Zones." Individuals in these areas are prohibited from leaving their homes except for essential needs. In all other districts, the curfew will be lifted at 06:00 (local time) on Thursday, April 16, and re-imposed at 16:00 on the same day. Travel between the districts is strictly prohibited during this period except for individuals providing essential services. Schools will be reopened on Monday, May 11.
As of April 14, there have been 233 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka, including seven associated fatalities. Further international spread of the disease is expected over the coming days and weeks.
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.