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Lanka delays reopening of international airport

Colombo: Due to a spike in Covid-19 cases last week, Sri Lanka has further delayed the reopening of its international airport here, media reports said.

The flights were supposed to resume from mid-August.

This is the second time when the island nation’s main international airport’s reopening has been put off.

The initial August 1 reopening was pushed to mid-August to focus on the repatriation of the tens of thousands of Sri Lankans stranded abroad.

Over 300 Covid-19 cases were detected recently at a drug rehabilitation centre in Sri Lanka’s North Central province, prompting authorities to close schools for a week starting July 13.

Repatriation flights operated by Sri Lankan Airlines will be suspended from July 14 as quarantine centres were running out of space after the surge in Covid-19 cases, many of whom are Sri Lankan returnees serving a mandatory 14-day quarantine at government-designated facilities.

The government has said that the airport, closed to commercial traffic, will reopen only after all or most of the Sri Lankans stranded abroad have been brought back.

To date, nearly 15,000 stranded Lankans from 65 counties have returned, out of 50,000 citizens awaiting flights home, according to government figures.

Sri Lanka has reported 2,646 Covid-19 cases as of July 15, with 1,981 recoveries and 11 deaths.

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