Sri Lanka will go into a 10-day lockdown from 10pm Friday (20) to 4am August 30, the national COVID-19 task force announced Friday afternoon.
Moments before the announcement was made, State Minister Channa Jayasumana told reporters that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had agreed to a request by the country’s Buddhist prelates to shut down the country for one week to contain a rising wave of delta variant-led COVID-19 infections.
Rajapaksa is expected to address the nation Friday night. No official statement has been made on what to expect in the speech.
Minister Gamini Lokuege, who also spoke to reporters outside the president’s office, said essential services will continue.
The government had previously declared its intention to not go for a lockdown, despite the chorus of calls for a tightened movement restrictions growing ever louder, from experts, politicians and others, as cases continued to spike.
Sri Lanka confirmed 186 COVID-19 deaths for Wednesday (18), the highest daily death toll yet. With 3,806 new infections for Thursday, active cases in the island have risen to nearly 48,000.