Asia Today: Sri Lanka expands curfew, closes gov't offices

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Sri Lankan health officials take swab samples from employees of the Colombo municipal council to test for COVID-19 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Authorities in Sri Lanka closed key government offices and further expanded a curfew Thursday to contain a surging coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)

COLOMBO – Authorities in Sri Lanka have closed key government offices and further expanded a curfew in an attempt to contain a surging coronavirus outbreak.

The foreign ministry closed its consular affairs office for the week and suspended all services to prevent the public from congregating. It said Thursday it would only accept queries and documentation assistance related to deaths of Sri Lankans overseas, strictly by appointment.

Other departments providing services related to revenue, immigration, pensions, vehicle license and registrations also closed for the week, and a state-sponsored exhibition was canceled.

The outbreak that surfaced this week has quickly grown to 1,034 cases, and more than 2,000 other people have been asked to quarantine at home.


In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

Myanmar reported 1,012 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, just a day after setting a record daily total of 1,400. The country’s total confirmed cases is now 22,445, including 535 deaths after 25 new fatalities were reported. Since the beginning of the month, the country’s cases have risen by 56% and its death toll has risen by 67%, despite the imposition of tight lockdown measures in Yangon, the country’s biggest city, where the highest number of infections have been found. Myanmar had recorded just 353 virus cases as of the beginning of August, but an upsurge later that month in the western state of Rakhine quickly spread to other parts of the country. In a nationally televised speech on Monday, Myanmar’s leader, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, urged people not to be too worried that daily increases in infections had climbed above 1,000. She said the government had acquired antigen test kits to detect cases more quickly. She acknowledged there was a shortage of beds in hospitals in some areas to isolate and treat patients, but said the health ministry was arranging more facilities.