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Sri Lanka looks to relax Coronavirus curfews in late April, open schools in May

A Sri Lankan police Special Task Force personnel wearing a facemask stands guard at a checkpoint during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Colombo on April 7, 2020.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is looking to relax Coronavirus controls after April 19 for low risk areas and re-open schools in the second week of May, officials said if the growth of new Covid-19 patients could be arrested.

A spokesperson for Sri Lanka’s President’s office said May 11 was being considered as a date to re-open schools.

The head of Sri Lanka’s Health Service Anil Jasinghe said a relaxation for low-risk areas would be possible after April 19, if community transmission is arrested.

“I think around that time – not for the entire island but at least for areas where there are no problems, substantial relaxations would be made,” Jasinghe told Sri Lanka’s privately owned Derana TV.”

“We expect during this time the number of new patients to go down. But it all depends on how many people have the disease already.”

Sri Lanka’s Coronavirus patients went up to 199 on Saturday, according to health ministry data, with 5 new contacts of a person in Suduwella who was confirmed earlier.

Meanwhile a minor worker of Sri Lanka’s Ragama hospital is also suspected to have contracted the disease. All contacts in the hospital have been quarantined.

Jasinghe said there has been no widespread community transmission so far.

However the person from Suduwella is not directly linked to any existing contacts and could be evidence of other patients running loose.

Sri Lanka has banned inter-district travel except for essential service such as trucks carrying food and other material.

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Sri Lanka has widened testing but delivery persons or drivers and workers of trucks doing inter-district transport are yet to be tested.

Sri Lanka’s Information Minister Bandula Gunewardene said that factories outside high-risk zones could re-open after discussing with divisional secretaries, if health regulations are followed.

Sri Lanka’s exporters are also asking for factories to be re-opened.

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Vietnam which is also making strong progress in contact tracing nad has announced plans to test workers of large companies.

Overnight Sri Lanka’s President’s office said curfews outside of Colombo, Gampaha, Puttalam, Kandy, Jaffna, which are high-risk areas, would not be lifted on April 14 from 0600h to 1400h but would continue till April 16.

Sri Lanka is celebrating a traditional new year celebrated by the Tamil and Sinhala community under curfew on April 13 and 14.

It is the usual practice to visit relatives during this time. However, now health authorities are advising people to stay at home and carry out any traditional rites only with immediate family members. (SB-Colombo/Apr12/2020)

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