Sri Lanka eases domestic travel restrictions amid rising COVID concerns

 Tuesday, November 2, 2021 

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Sri Lanka announced the end of its inter-provincial travel ban on Sunday despite concerns about rising COVID cases from medical professionals. The ban was first imposed in May due to the raging third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The travel ban was continued to be on place despite the government ending the quarantine curfew on October 1, which was continuously in force from August 20. Public Transport Minister Dilum Amunugama said that transport services would come into operation from Monday.

The lifting of the travel ban came as the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) warned of a possible new wave with restrictions being relaxed. In a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the SLMA said it was more important than ever before the precise steps are taken at this point of time.

It recommended close monitoring as health guidelines are not being implemented and the general public keeps disregarding them. Recommendation of a third dose or a Pfizer vaccine booster to priority groups such as the elderly and the frontline health workers were also made.

The SLMA cited recent studies which showed that 7% of the elderly population, who had been administered with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, have not developed adequate level of immunity against the virus. With the public movement increasing, the SLMA said that the risk of elderly people getting the virus has increased and they are more prone than other groups to severe conditions and death.

The health ministry’s epidemiology unit said that as of Saturday, over 15.4 million of the island’s 21 million population had received at least one dose. Also, 13.4 million had received both jabs. Sri Lanka’s death toll since the outbreak in March 2020 stood at near 13,800 with over 540,000 infections.

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