Sri Lanka on alert amid reports of new coronavirus strain

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Colombo, Dec 22 (PTI) Sri Lanka is on alert amid concerns that a new variant of the coronavirus is spreading much faster in parts of England, than the first-identified virus strain, Sri Lankan Army Commander Shavendra Silva said on Tuesday.

Silva, who is also the island nation's Head of COVID-19 prevention, said a study will be conducted by the Director General Health Services and other senior health officials, based on which a new action plan will be devised.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday announced that the country would continue to remain in a tough lockdown amid reports of the new virus strain and it spiking the number of COVID-19 cases.

Sri Lanka has also suspended all flights from the UK. The decision comes amid plans to reopen international air travel from 26 December.

The foreign ministry and the National Operation Center for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) will continue to arrange flights for migrant workers, students, patients, short term visa holders, government and military officials.

These persons will be quarantined at government centres free of cost.

Dual citizens of Sri Lankan origin will be allowed to travel on any commercial airline subject to availability of seats. So far the coronavirus has claimed 181 lives with 37,891 confirmed infection in the island nation, according to the Johns Hopkins University. PTI IND