Sri Lanka begins PCR tests for COVID-19 at int'l airport

3rd Jun, 2020 | Tourism Mail Crew

COLOMBO : Sri Lanka has begun PCR tests for COVID-19 at the country's main Bandaranaike International Airport, in a bid to detect possible virus carriers and to prevent the virus from entering among the public, local media reported here Tuesday.

The decision to conduct the PCR tests was announced by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa when he met a special Task Force set up to fight the COVID-19, tourism officials and health authorities on Monday.

Tourism and Aviation Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, quoted in local media said authorities had begun conducting the tests on all passengers being repatriated from overseas and depending on their results, they were being either diverted to the hospital or quarantine centers.

Sri Lanka's international airports remain closed for passenger arrivals and it is open only for those being repatriated from overseas, cargo and arrival of medical aid.

Ranatunga said the key objective of this initiative was to identify COVID-19 infected passengers without any further delay and minimize the risk of the virus spreading further within communities.

Sri Lanka has to date, detected over 1,600 positive COVID-19 patients since the first local patient was detected in March, out of which over 800 patients have recovered and been discharged. Eleven deaths have been reported, Health Ministry statistics showed.

In recent days, the number of patients spiked considerably as hundreds of local nationals who were repatriated from foreign countries tested positive for the virus while being under quarantine.

According to official data from the Tourism Ministry, nearly 10,000 migrant workers from 21 countries have been repatriated into the island country in recent weeks and they have been directed to quarantine centers. Another 20,000 are expected to return following a systematic repatriation process being followed by the authorities.Xinhua