Sri Lanka police will strictly enforce mask and social distancing requirements and punish violators starting Monday as other anti-virus measures are eased to reduce the economic pain.
Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said 120 people have been arrested for failing to wear face masks and maintain social distancing in public places during the last 10 days. Coronavirus rules introduced last month carry a penalty of a $54 fine, six months' imprisonment or both.
“From today onwards, we will strictly enforce this law and will arrest those who defy these rules,” Rohana said.
Passenger trains resumed operating after nearly two weeks and the government lifted a curfew that had been in effect in the capital, Colombo and its suburbs. Only pockets where infections are high will remain under isolation with no one permitted to enter or leave the area.
The government said the coronavirus threat hasn’t subsided, but the region must be opened up because the economy can’t sustain a continued closure.
Sri Lanka has counted 13,929 COVID-19 patients with 35 deaths since the pandemic began. Both figures have been increasing because of two recent clusters that account for more than 9,900 of the total infections.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
India has reported 45,903 new coronavirus cases, with its capital recording the highest single-day rise in infections since the pandemic began. The Health Ministry on Monday also reported 490 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities in the country to 126,611. New Delhi’s increase of 7,745 cases comes during a recent surge the government has attributed to crowding in markets during the ongoing festive season, winter weather and high air pollution. The capital’s air quality levels are plummeting to the “severe” category. A recent government report projected New Delhi may see up to 15,000 daily cases in the winter months. India has counted more than 8.5 million cases since the pandemic began, the second-highest total behind the U.S.
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