COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Friday extended its Covid-19 lockdown and travel restrictions until June 21 as the coronavirus death toll crossed the 2,000-mark after the country on Thursday recorded its highest single-day fatalities with 101 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.
The current lockdown was to be lifted at 4 am on June 14. The restrictions have been in force since mid-May when the health authorities alerted the government on the current third wave of the pandemic.
“The travel restrictions which is currently in force will be extended until June 21, according to a decision taken by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa,” Army Commander Shavendra Silva, who heads the Covid-19 prevention task force, told reporters here on Friday.
“Essential services, apparel factories, construction sites, village markets, agricultural and organic fertilizer production will function during the restrictions,” Silva said.
Sri Lanka has witnessed an increase of positive cases and deaths since April, partly caused by celebrations and shopping during last month’s traditional new year festival.
The country has recorded over 100,000 new infections since April 15 in its third wave. The death toll from the coronavirus has now reached 2,011, health officials said on Friday.
The 101 deaths reported on Thursday were the highest number of deaths confirmed in a day since the onset of the pandemic in the country in March 2020.
The extension of the travel restrictions came as officials in the health sector had expressed dissatisfaction with the impact of the travel restrictions on curbing the wave. They called for much stronger action to limit people’s movements as the highly contagious Alpha and Delta variants of the coronavirus have been detected in the country.
An eight-day-old baby from Pussellawa town in Kandy District, who died on Wednesday, was the country’s youngest Covid victim, Health officials said. Most of the patients who died due to Covid-19 were between 65 -75 years of age.
The country has registered over 2,17,000 positive cases so far.