Sri Lanka dispatches Army to trace quarantine evaders

Colombo, Mar 15 (PTI) Faced by the increasing threat of COVID-19 spread, the Army is to track down a group of Sri Lankans who had arrived from Italy and evaded quarantine, a top official said on Sunday.

They had arrived between March 1-9 and allegedly escaped the quarantine process where they ought to have travelled from the Colombo international airport to the quarantine centre in the eastern district of Batticaloa.

Sri Lanka Army has taken over the quarantine process of the returnees.

'One of the ways in which the Army ensures national security is guaranteeing the safety of citizens. Our work in the quarantine process in such action,' Army chief Gen Shavendra Silva told reporters.

He said the military intelligence will be deployed to track down the escapees.

There are over 1,700 people in quarantine right now with 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

All passengers from 11 countries are now being quarantined, airport officials said. All flights to Sri Lanka from the UK, Norway and Belgium are suspended.

The Civil Aviation Authority also announced the closing down of the Jaffna international airport operations in view of the threat. Jaffna operates flights to Chennai.

The Catholic church has cancelled its Sunday masses for two weeks. Tomorrow has been declared a special holiday to minimise public gatherings. Already all public events have been cancelled. PTI CORR CPS