ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka, now into its fourth week of an extended COVID-19 lockdown, is likely to gradually reopen starting next Tuesday (21), though health experts warn that the country is not yet out of the woods.
State Minister for COVID Control Dr Sudarshini Fernandopulle told reporters on Tuesday (14) that a drop in daily cases and deaths has been observed since the “quarantine curfew” was announced on August 20.
“No matter what allegations some people may level, the lockdown has helped immensely,” she said.
There has been some criticism over the strict enforcement of the lockdown or lack thereof, with numerous reports of vehicles and pedestrians lining the streets in various parts of the island. Photos and footage of crowded roads have been shared on social media on multiple occasions.
However, the curves of daily infections and deaths have indeed dipped somewhat, though around 2,500 cases are still reported every day. Monday (13) saw 2,560 people testing positive for the virus, while 135 people were confirmed to have died of the disease on Sunday (12).
As of Tuesday, there are 62,756 active cases currently receiving treatment either at a hospital or at home.
“The government plans to reopen the country gradually next week while continuing vaccination and adhering to health precautions,” said Fernandopulle.
However, Dr Padma Gunaratne of the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) said with over 2,000 new cases and nearly 150 deaths a day, it cannot be said that Sri Lanka is out of danger yet.
“As a country, we haven’t left the danger zone yet. We still find over 2,000 new cases a day, which means there may be at least 6,000 cases present in the community,” she said.
“We’re still in the red zone. This is why it’s important that both the public and the government pay close attention to this and take every measure to prevent another wave,” she added. (Colombo/Sep14/2021)