ECONOMYNEXT – Barely 24 hours after Sri Lanka announced the detection of the deadly Delta (Indian) strain of COVID-19, authorities confirmed that the ongoing unofficial lockdown, now into its fourth week, will be lifted at 4am June 21.
The curfew style movement restrictions will be reimposed at 10pm June 23 until it’s lifted again at 4am June 25, Army Commander Gen Shavendra Silva said. The 30 hour temporary lockdown will cover the Poson Full Moon Poya day, a Buddhist holiday that marks the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, that falls on June 24 this year.
However, no travel will be permitted between provinces, Silva said.
Authorities imposed curfew style movement restrictions on May 21 in an effort to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19.
The decision to lift the lockdown comes just a day after health authorities announced the detection of the highly transmissible Delta strain of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Five samples that were collected from Dematagoda, Colombo, and genome sequenced by the University of Sri Jayawrdenapura had tested positive for the Delta, or Indian, variant which experts say is 50 percent more transmissible than the Alpha or the UK variant that is currently identified as the dominant strain in Sri Lanka.
There has been a dip in daily cases, but with a corresponding drop in PCR testing. Official records still show over 2,000 cases a day.
Deputy Director of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath told media on June 17 that special guidelines will be issued for the public to follow upon lifting the travel restrictions.
“We expect the public to take up the responsibility of containing the spread rather than our constantly trying to control the public through the authorities. It won’t be successful that way,” said Herath.
Sri Lanka police arrested the 1,561 people for breaking travel restriction regulations on June 17, with the highest number of arrests being reported in Kuliyapitiya, Kandy and Matale.
Public Health Inspectors (PHI) Union Chairman Upul Rohana told media that the restrictions imposed are not operating at a satisfactory level.
“We don’t see the restrictions being effective now. It is no use of continuing the restriction this way,” Rohana told reporters on June 17.
“If we lift the restrictions on June 21, it must be under strict conditions,” he said. (Colombo/ June 18/2021)