COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Wednesday intensified travel restrictions across the country, restricting movement of traffic at night to combat the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 800 lives in the island nation.
The ban, from 11 pm to 4 am daily, will come into place from tonight until May 31, Army chief Gen Shavendra Silva, who heads the COVID combat operations, told the media.
However, essential services and transportation of food items will be allowed during this period.
The move comes after inter-provincial travel restrictions were put into place across the country until May 30.
Additionally, there would be a blanket travel ban from 11 pm on Thursday until 4 am on Monday in view of the long weekend and festival of Eid on Friday.
Silva said people were noticed breaking COVID preventive guidelines in the night as large numbers were seen on the roads and attending private functions.
The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) had warned of a possible breakdown in the healthcare system in the island if the current surge was left unchecked.
The SLMA officials met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday to stress on the need for a strict action.
They warned that the number of people requiring oxygen and those waiting for intensive care treatment was rapidly rising.
There was a severe shortage of PCR facilities, particularly in peripheral hospitals, there were many diagnosed COVID cases remaining in their homes awaiting admission to hospitals or intermediate centres, they said.
The COVID deaths may reach unprecedented levels and a grave national catastrophe is a real potential threat in the near future unless something that offers rapid results is implemented, the SLMA warned.
Achieving rapid control would save many lives, ease the burden on hospitals, lay the background for vaccination and be economically beneficial in the longer-term, the SLMA told the president.
Sri Lanka is battling the third wave of the pandemic.
The country reported 149 COVID deaths over the last 10 days, health officials said.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus data, Sri Lanka has reported 131,098 COVID-19 cases and 850 deaths.