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Serving the nation in times of crisis

Serving the nation in times of crisis

With the country under a curfew and a  virtual lockdwon, security forces work round the clock to spray disinfectant at public places as part of the government’s measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Pic by M.A. Pushpakumara  

Import ban on vehicles, luxury items to stop rupee’s crash

  The Central Bank has banned the import of a long list of items, including computer equipment for networking that is essential to the Government’s ‘work from home’ policy in what is seen as a desperate bid to stop foreign exchange outflows and to stabilise the fast depreciating rupee. An official announcement by the Central [...]

Four COVID patients recover, cases increase to 76

Good news that four COVID-19 affected patients, including Patient 1, have recovered and would be ready for discharge after a few more tests, came amid a lockdown of the country through a 60-hour curfew imposed at 6 p.m. on Friday. The National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) is awaiting confirmation that the four patients are [...]


The health emergency numbers are – 0710107107 and 011-3071073 If you have travelled to Sri Lanka from abroad between March 1 and 20 and wish to register with the authorities — 119; 011-2444480; 011-2444481; 011-5978720; 011-5978730; and 011-5978734. If you need to travel to hospital in the event of an emergency, you can proceed during [...]

9,000 Lankans left high and dry as virus ban hits foreign jobs

Between 8,000 and 9,000 Sri Lankans who were poised to travel aboard on foreign employment are now stuck in limbo—with most having given up their local jobs—and may soon start demanding refunds from agents who are also helpless in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Our trade is in tatters,” said P.S. Selvaratnam, Assistant Secretary [...]

Nearly one billion people confined to homes globally to curb virus

NEW YORK, March 21 (AFP) – Close to one billion people worldwide were confined to their homes on Saturday as the global coronavirus death toll shot past 11,000 and US states rolled out lockdown measures already imposed across swathes of Europe. The pandemic has completely upended lives across the planet, restricting movement, shutting schools and [...]

Curfew extended till Tuesday

The curfew that was due to end tomorrow at 6 am has been extended until Tuesday 6 am for the Colombo, Gampaha and Puttalam districts. In these three districts, the curfew will be re-imposed at 2.00 pm on Tuesday. In all other districts, the curfew will be lifted at 6 a.m. tomorrow and re-imposed at [...]

Rise in dengue cases: A cause for concern

A steep rise observed in dengue cases—a massive 17,868 cases between January and March this year–could worsen the burden on the country’s healthcare sector if efforts to stamp out the vector do not continue, experts said. The number of cases this year is a marked increase of 35 percent when compared with the 13,148 cases [...]

Prison riot in A’pura over suspected Covid patient; one killed

One inmate was killed and three were wounded at the Anuradhapura prisons when they were fired upon during an escape bid, Police said. The prisoners had tried to escape during a tense situation that erupted after an inmate was believed to have been infected with the coronavirus. However, Prison sources said two of the inmates [...]

No Pongal temple rites; pray at home, Hindus told

Religious festivals in the north were brought to a halt this week with the threat of coronavirus. The Nainativu (Nagadeepa) Nagapoosani Amman Temple Trustee announced that all special poojas were cancelled until further notice. Normally, every Monday during the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April), special Pongal prayers are held in the temples, especially at the [...]

Jaffna insistent on preserving zero virus count despite assault on officials

Despite a violent confrontation, healthcare officials in the north, which has seen no confirmed case of coronavirus yet, are determined to keep up checks and public campaigns while closely monitoring 546 people in self-quarantine. With 76 coronavirus (COVID19) cases recorded in other parts of the country (by Saturday morning), northern healthcare authorities have mobilised staff [...]

Stranded tourists offered transport

Tourists stranded without transport to get to the airport could call the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority on the hotline ‘1912’ or the Police to make transport arrangements, an official said. At present, there were 29,000 tourists in the country and any of them facing transport issues could call for assistance, said Dr Mahesh Priyadharshana [...]

Brief relief next week and then ‘extreme caution’ heat

The Department of Meteorology warned that despite an expected fall next week the heat index would rise to “Extreme Caution” level by April due to the sun’s overhead position over the island. The heat index calculates the temperature felt by the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature. “Extreme Caution” levels [...]

Ragging victim lies immobilised from injuries while UGC consults police

Pasindu Hirushan, the 21-year-old ragging victim from Sri Jayawardenepura University, is awake and responding now but doctors are concerned that the right side of his body could be paralysed, his sister said this week. Doctors ran preliminary response and memory checks on Hirushan assisted by his family, his sister, Shermila Silva said. “He is still [...]

In coronavirus-hit Italy, life goes on for Lankans

In coronavirus-hit Italy, life goes on for Lankans

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to ravage Italy, home to one of Sri Lanka’s biggest expatriate communities, with the number of total recorded cases reaching 47,000 yesterday. Lombardy remains the epicentre of the virus in Europe, with 22,264 reported cases and 2,549 deaths by Friday. The northern Italian region also houses the largest Sri Lankan [...]

Coming home: This time no parties and trips for Italy returnees

Coming home: This time no parties and trips for Italy returnees

Usually when Sri Lankans living in Italy return home for the holidays it’s a time for parties and trips with family members. But this time it’s different, with many of them living in isolation, anxious that they may have contracted the globally rampaging coronavirus. Newton Pathriana, a father of three, was aware that the situation [...]

Lanka’s elderly population, informal economy more vulnerable to Covid-19

Sri Lanka has the highest proportion of elderly in the population across South Asia as well as a sprawling informal economy, both of which will be severely hit if Covid-19 is not brought rapidly under control. In 2012—eight years ago—over 2.5mn people, or 12.4 percent of the country’s population, were over the age of 60, [...]

President seeks public support to curtail pandemic

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has urged the public to extend support to the government’s initiatives and regulations as part of collective and urgent measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as the number of positive cases continues to rise in the country. In an address that was telecasted through a private television station, [...]

Police bail, video links among JSC measures to deal with pandemic

The Judicial Service Commission has issued a directive that the provisions to release suspects on police bail should be implemented as much as possible and only the cases considered to be urgent by judges should be taken up till the 27th of this month. These are some of the measures the JSC headed by Chief [...]

‘Continue lockdown and tell people the plan from Monday’

‘Continue lockdown and tell people the plan from Monday’

All crucial sectors should meet urgently and have a plan without gaps which may need to be changed on the run, as the next step to prevent Sri Lanka facing a COVID-19 disaster. This plan should be clearly explained to the public, urged former Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Nihal Abeysinghe. “The public needs to be made [...]

A day in the life of those in quarantine

A day in the life of those in quarantine

What is it like to be quarantined? Here the Sunday Times spoke to those in some of the quarantine centres to put together the ‘day in the life’ of those living in there. Medical student DinulHettiarachchi (20) who arrived in Sri Lanka from the United Kingdom (UK) early on Tuesday is now at the Diyatalawa [...]

Corona-hit economy will look to Government assistance

Natural disasters, a devastating terrorist attack—and now a sweeping viral epidemic that will leave no sector untouched. Sri Lanka’s economy has long been called “resilient”, especially for how it sputtered stubbornly through the war years. But, now an upper middle-income country, it no longer has recourse to generous international financial aid and concessions. The solutions [...]

As coronavirus spreads, daily wage earners cry out for help

K.M. Ariyawathi (52) has a blood disorder. She and her husband are currently living in Wattala on rent, trying to earn enough money to educate their two children, aged 17 and 12, who live in Monaragala with Ms Ariyawathi’s mother-in-law. “We are daily wage earners. We can’t earn much in Monaragala to educate our children, [...]

Tourism reeling from global virus pandemic

Tourism reeling from global virus pandemic

With about 500,000 directly and indirectly working in over 2,500 hotels, restaurants, holiday homes and villas, the hospitality industry is bracing for a temporary shutdown as it experiences the worst hit from the new coronavirus global pandemic, senior hoteliers say. An alarming rise in the number of coronavirus patients among those who had arrived from [...]

With curfew came panic

With curfew came panic

With the Govt. on Friday morning announcing that an islandwide curfew would be imposed from Friday 6 p.m. to Monday 6 a.m., there were scenes of panic shopping, queues at petrol sheds and buses packed with commuters, with little heed to the importance of ‘social- distancing’ in the face of the fast-spreading coronavirus. Pix by [...]

Risking their lives to keep a city clean

Risking their lives to keep a city clean

Although the country is under a weekend curfew to stop the spread of COVID-19, those engaged in essential services were seen carrying out their duties in some parts of the city. These included the street sweepers and garbage collectors. These unsung heroes and heroines continue with their tasks in spite of the risk of contracting [...]

Symptoms of a virus-hit general election 2020

Symptoms of a virus-hit general election 2020

Polls on hold; ailing UNP splits into two; Karu out, Ranil-Sajith in rival campaigns from Colombo Parties ignore call to bring in more women to parliament; celebrities in the fray   A bout an hour after nominations for the 2020 parliamentary elections closed at noon on Thursday, the Election Commission (EC) made the much anticipated [...]

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