ECONOMYNEXT – If COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka continue to rise, schools will have to be closed again and restrictions reimposed, health officials said, days after the government announced the reopening of schools.
COVID-19 cases have seen a slight increase in Sri Lanka, with 720 new infections being detected on Tuesday (16). Total cases in the island are at 552,994 with 13,772 active cases. With 18 deaths reported on Tuesday, the diseases has taken 14,034 lives.
With the number of positive cases among children will rise in parallel to the increase in cases in the overall population, Lady Ridgway Children’s Hospital (LRCH) paediatrician Dr Deepal Perera told reporters on Wednesday.
“We may have to close schools again as a result,” said Perera.
Since the virus is more likely to spread from adults to children given the relatively lower transmissibility levels between children, said Perera, adults ought to act responsibly.
“We are the ones who can take the virus home. Let’s think about our children and act responsibly in order to prevent another community spread,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath said if the daily caseload passes a certain point, authorities may recommend the closure of schools and the imposition of travel restrictions once again.
Sri Lanka lifted its last COVID-19 on October 01, while an inter-province travel ban wasn’t lifted until as recently as October 31.
Earlier this week, 148 students and 78 teachers at a school in the Southern Province tested positive for the virus. Commenting on this, Herath said similar incidents have been reported in several districts and provinces.
If this continues, we will have to once again close the schools that were only just opened after a long time,” Herath told reporters on Wednesday (17).
“If this goes beyond a certain level, there won’t be any solution other than to reimpose restrictions,” he added.
On Tuesday, the ministry of health introduced new COVID-19 regulations to be followed by the public, noting a risk of escalation.
“It is important to comply with the directions issued by the Director General of Health Services, subject to quarantine regulations,” the Ministry said in a statement.
The new guidelines, apart from the now standard mask-wearing, hand washing and social distancing are as follows.
- Strongly advocating to all on continued practices to prevent spread (Distancing (D), Respiratory etiquette (Re), Aseptic techniques — hand hygiene and disinfecting common and frequently touched surfaces (A), wearing of Mask in public (M) – D Re A M) i.e. the New- Normal. Therefore, a continuous program is needed to educate the public and communicate risks with wide media coverage in order to adhere to recommended health practices.
- Getting 100a» coverage of vaccination for the recommended target groups.
- Refraining from non-essential travel and restricting movements outside home as far as possible.
- Safer transport methods should be used/ provided. Improving availability of transport facilities that are less crowded.
- Only seated passengers in public transport.
- Public and shared transport should preferably be non-air-conditioned, and windows should be opened.
- All passengers should wear a mask properly during travel.
5. The workplaces can function as usual adhering to the COVID-19 precautionary measures.
6. Public gatherings, meetings, events are not permitted until further notice unless prior approval is obtained from the Proper Authority for whole of Sri Lanka except the activities mentioned in the schedule below.
7. The regulatory and monitoring program informed by Presidential Secretariat according to recommendations from Ministry of Health should be implemented as instructed to ensure compliance with the directions given.
8. The MOH is to be supported by the local committees including the community police force in supervising the public and work settings.
9. The MOH, based on local monitoring of disease transmission situation will inform the DGHS for clearance on closure or functioning of public or work settings as per the directions issued by Ministry of Health.
10. Considering the controlled nature of the COVID-19 epidemic and the possibility of further escalation of the epidemic, the manner in which public activities are permitted is given in schedule below.
11. Legal action should be taken under the existing legal provisions against persons/ institution who does not comply with the directions.
12. The situation will be reviewed by 30″ November 2021 and guidelines will be issued for the period thereafter according to the prevailing situation.
|Limitations/ Restrictions and allowable capacity of
the events/ gatherings/ meetings etc.
From 16 November 2021
|1||Persons leaving home||Avoid unnecessary travel out of the home, in order to
minimise risk of transmission of COVID-19 to household members and colleagues.
|Official/ Corporate/ Professional Meetings/events||Virtual meetings are strongly encouraged.
Maximum 1/3 of the usual capacity of the room/ hall, not exceeding 150 persons.
|Private gatherings (indoor/ in- house gatherings)||Maximum 1/3 of the usual capacity of the room/hall, not
exceeding 100 persons. Maximum of 10 persons in a private house.
Outdoor private gatherings are not permitted.
|4||Economic centres||Open for wholesale business, under strict supervision of local authorities and area MOH.|
|5||Sathi pola/ open markets/ mobile
|Allowed under strict supervision of local authorities and
|6||Restaurant (in-dining)||1/3 of usual capacity not exceeding 75 persons
Outdoor arrangements encouraged If outdoor — 100 persons allowed.
|1/3 of capacity at a given time. Number allowed to be displayed.|
|8||Financial institutes (banks,
financing companies, pawning centres)
|Open. Should be restricted to 15 persons inside at a
given time. Remaining customers to queue outside maintaining physical distance of one meter.
|9||Barbers, salons, tailors||Customers by appointment only.|
|10||Schools||As decided by Ministry of Education.|
|13||Higher education centres
|As decided by the University Grants Commission (UGC).|
|14||Vocational training institutes||50% of capacity at a given time.|
|15||To function under the guidance of Judicial Services
Commission adhering to health guidelines.
|16||Cinema/ Theatres||50% of capacity at a given time.|
|17||Gymnasiums||Operate at 50% capacity.|
No spectators permitted.
(Open spaces encouraged)
|Maximum 1/3 of usual capacity of the hall, not exceeding
150 persons allowed if it’s an outdoor function. No liquor to be served at weddings.
should be held within 24hours of
releasing the dead body
|Maximum 20 persons at a given time.|
|21||Religious places||Individual worshipping is permitted.
Special festivals/occasions/ religious prayers or services should be conducted as per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.
Exhibitions and conventions
To commence from 1st December 2021 with adequate preparations and precautions.
|23||Examinations (in physical
|Permitted with strict adherence to health guidelines.|
|24||Tuition classes||50% of usual capacity only for O/L and A/L classes.|
|25||Industries||Current operations according to guidelines given.|
- All the guidelines, directions, circulars, press release, instructions, terms and conditions issued or specified by the Proper Authority for the whole of Sri Lanka up to the 15. 11. 2021 shall be implemented in line with the Regulation published in Extraordinary Gazette Notification bearing No. 2253/10 dated 09. 11.2021.
- This direction is issued as a Press Release and published in the official website of the Ministry of Health as per the provisions of the Regulation 99 (3) published in Extraordinary Gazette Notification bearing No. 2253/10 dated 09. 11.2021.