By Agence France-Presse
Sri Lanka on Friday extended its anti-virus lockdown for a second time, through May 11, as health authorities warned that the crisis was not yet under control in the island nation.
The government also said that for the first time ever, the country’s most important Buddhist festival will go on next week under a nationwide curfew, with no public gatherings allowed.
“We cannot say that the spread of the virus is 100 percent under control,” Sri Lanka’s Director General of Health, Anil Jasinghe, said in a statement.
“At the same time, the control of the virus is not out of our hand either.”
The two-day holiday for the Vesak festival — commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha — begins Thursday.
Jasinghe said social distancing measures and strict health guidelines on washing hands and wearing masks in public places will have to be observed during and after the event.
Large crowds usually flood the streets to view huge lanterns and colored lights put up to celebrate Vesak across the nation of 21 million people.
Sri Lanka has been under lockdown measures since March 20. The first extension moved the end date from April 27 to May 4.
The South Asian country has officially recorded 690 infections and seven deaths.
The biggest virus hotspot was at a navy camp near Colombo where 4,000 personnel and their families have been placed under quarantine after more than 250 sailors tested positive.