COLOMBO: Four members of an Indian family, including two children, have been arrested for allegedly entering Sri Lanka's Jaffna peninsula illegally and violating the local immigration and the quarantine laws, police said on Thursday.
The family, which consists of a 61-year old woman, her 34-year-old daughter and her two children and they had entered Sri Lanka on May 6 with the help of fishermen.
Ajith Rohana, the deputy inspector general of police, said the members of the family were arrested at Gurunagar area in Jaffna for their illegal stay in the country and violating the immigration and quarantine laws. "They had arrived from India on May 6 on an Indian boat halfway and had travelled the rest of the way aboard a Sri Lankan fishing boat," Rohana said.
He said the family belonged to Rameshwaram in India and were being made to undergo the coronavirus screening test to check if they were infected with the contagious infection.
The arrest came as the Sri Lanka Navy said early this month that they had increased surveillance in the north and northeastern seas to check the possible arrival of COVID-infected Indian fishermen and making contact with the local people in the island nation.
Last week researchers here announced that they had found a Sri Lankan carrying the COVID-19 variant B.1.617 which is fast spreading in India. However, the authorities discounted the possibility of the variant spreading in the country as the man was only found at a quarantine center.
On May 6, Sri Lanka said that Indian passengers will not be allowed to disembark in the country in the backdrop of the current surge of the pandemic. Sri Lanka up until then had functioned as a transit hub for Indians travelling to other destinations such as West Asia and Singapore.
This was an arrangement made by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority. Sri Lanka has so far reported 133,527 COVID-19 cases while it has registered 550 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.