Sri Lanka announced today that all arrivals from India not be permitted to enter the country with immediate effect due to the record rise in COVID-19 cases in the neighbouring country. Many countries like the UK, the UAE, Australia and Singapore have already barred travellers from India as well as other South Asian countries.
The Civil Aviation Authority announced that travellers from India will not be allowed to disembark in Sri Lanka. This decision has been taken due to the rapid rise in coronavirus cases in India.
“In accordance with instructions received from health authorities of Sri Lanka due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, it is hereby directed that passengers travelling from India will not be permitted to disembark in Sri Lanka with immediate effect,” wrote the Director General Civil aviation in a letter to the CEO of the national carrier Srilankan Airlines.
Almost 2,000 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Sri Lanka over each of the last 5 days taking the average up from the 200 cases reported per day up until mid-April. Sri Lanka describes this new surge in cases as the New Year cluster coming from the traditional New Year festivities mid-April. The health authorities believe that the current wave is from the fast-spreading UK variant.
Many Indians used Sri Lanka as a transit hub where they needed to be quarantined for 14 days before travelling to other destinations like West Asia and Singapore. This was an arrangement by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. A tourism travel bubble was introduced by the Sri Lankan tourism authorities for which special facilities were set up receiving Indian tourists. This was in spite of the present COVID situation in India.
Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has issued instructions to allow Sri Lankan migrant workers to return to the country.
The Sri Lankan Navy last week announced that they had increased surveillance of north and north-eastern seas as a COVID containment measure to prevent the possibility of infected Indian fishermen crossing the international waters and making contacts with the locals.
India hit a record daily high with 412,262 new COVID-19 cases and 3,980 fatalities being reported. This has taken the total tally of coronavirus cases to 2,10,77,410 and the death toll to 2,30,168, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.