01/28/2020, 15.18
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Sri Lanka reports first coronavirus case, activates security measures

by Melani Manel Perera

The first case involves a woman from China’s Hubei province who arrived on a tourist visa on 19 January. Visitors are not allowed in the country’s international airport. Two toll-free numbers provide information about the infection. Returning Sri Lankan students in China will be placed under quarantine.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lankan health authorities have confirmed the first case of Wuhan coronavirus in the country.

A 40-year-old woman from the Chinese province of Hubei tested positive at a screening. She had arrived on the island on 19 January on a tourist visa.

As of this morning, security measures have been in place at Bandaranaike International Airport to prevent the spread of the disease that has claimed 106 lives in China, where the outbreak began.

Sri Lankan Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi held a press conference today to illustrate the new procedures.

Restriction have been imposed on Chinese visitors arriving at the airport. The airport will allow passengers to disembark but not transit through.

The government and SriLankan Airlines, the country’s national carrier, are offering cheaper fares to Sri Lankan students in China to facilitate their return with discounts of up to 50 per cent with the possibility of payment through a third-party credit card.

The Sri Lankan Embassy in Beijing has reported that at least 204 Sri Lankan students have left in the past two days. Others are expected to follow in the coming days. All returnees will be required to spend a two-week special quarantine period at the Diyatalawa army base.

Two toll-free numbers (0710107107, 0113071073) are available 24 hours a day to ask information about the coronavirus and how to stem its spread (like wearing protective masks and frequent hand washing).

The country’s 12 largest hospitals have been prepped to deal with the outbreak, health authorities announced, including the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Angoda where the first case was reported.

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