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Is Sri Lanka Safe after COVID-19?

Sri Lankan Explorer > Blog > Is Sri Lanka Safe after COVID-19?
Is Sri Lanka Safe to Travel?

After more than three months of curfew Sri Lankan government left the curfew on June. The country is now functioning as usual without a clear risk of a second covid 19 chain developing. Number of cases identified each day is very low (According to the live statistic dashboard of official website of Sri Lanka health promotion bureau) Schools, universities, public institutions and government offices are functioning as usual.  So, as everything is happening well here in Sri Lanka, the tourism ministry announced the government is reopening the country for tourists from 1st of August. But, there will be very strict rules and regulations for them to avoid virus spreading.

Part 1 – Entering Sri Lanka

A Brief introduction

We know you love Sri Lanka. Sri Lankans love you too. But, for your safety and for the safety of your beloved Sri Lanka you have to follow some guidelines if you are visiting Sri Lanka. In brief the government made following announcements,

  • The country will accept tourists from August.
  • Tourists must carry a COVID-19 free certificate issued not earlier than 72 hours before boding.
  • Even with the COVID-19 free certificate the officials will take another test at the airport upon arrival.
  • After 3-4 days another check will be done to make sure you are not infected.
  • If you are staying for more than 10 days a third test will also take place.
  • You are not allowed to use public transportation on the island.
  • You can only stay at hotels shortlisted by the Health ministry.
  • The visa fee of 40 USD is increased to 100 USD.

“While this may be inconvenient it is essential to safeguard everybody and provide peace of mind,” the ministry said.

(Source of information – www.thejakartapost.com)

Contacts

Sri Lanka is always happy to welcome you. But, if you have any problem about visiting the country or after your visit you can contact one of following government organisations to get information and support.  You can also get updates on contact details from the official COVID-19 page of Sri Lankan Government.

(1) Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau

Sri Lanka tourism promotion bureau is a government agency functioning under the Ministry of tourism and aviation. They promote information and advises on what activities are available on Sri Lanka for tourists, what festivals are ongoing and suggestions on tour literariness. From their website you can find very valuable information to plan a whole trip from places to visit to food and accommodation.

  • Visit the official website from here
  • View the official YouTube channel from here
  • Visit Facebook and Twitter social media pages fro here.
  • Call hotline – 1912 (Inside Sri Lanka)
  • International call line  – +94 112426900
  • Fax numbers – +94 112 440001 / 2426984
  • Mailing address – No. 80, Galle Road, Colombo 03, Sri Lanka.
  • Visit their contact page from here.

(2) Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority

Tourism development authority is the government authority tasked with planning, development, regulation, and policy implementation of tourism and related industries.  From their website you can find rules and regulations for tourists, tourist guides and drivers. The authority has also published a full guiding document to explain every single detail to the people who are willing to visit Sri Lanka after COVID-19.

You can download the PDF Sri Lanka tourism operational guidelines with health protocols version 1 from here.

(3) Ministry of Tourism and Aviation

You can view the latest news, contact information to booking details from the official government website.

  • Visit the website of ministry from here
  • Call hotline -1912
  • Telephone numbers –  +94 11 232 1222
  • Fax Number – +94 11 243 6672
  • Email address – info@tourismmin.gov.lk
  • Mailing address – 6th Floor, Rakshana Mandiraya, No 21, Vauxhall Street, Colombo 02, Sri Lanka.
  • Web Contact page from here
  • View all tourism related institutions functioning under the ministry from here 

(4) Tourist Police

Police Unit   Location Contact Number
Police Tourist Division Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management Building
No. 78, Galle Road
Colombo 03.  
+94 11 242 1070 +94 71 859 1895  
Anuradhapura Tourist Police Post
Anuradhapura
+94 11 313 3686 +94 71 449 1068  
Polonnaruwa   +94 27 222 2222 +94 27 222 2225 +94 27 222 2226  
Kandy Tourist Police Post
Kandy  
+94 81 383 7392 +94 71 445 9734
Mount Lavinia Tourist Police Post
Mount Lavinia  
+94 11 273 8351  
Sigiriya Tourist Police Post
Sigiriya  
+94 66 493 0327 +94 71 845 2810
Hikkaduwa – Narigama Tourist Police Post
Narigama
Hikkaduwa  
+94 91 227 5554 +94 77 514 2320  
Aluthgama – Moragalla Tourist Police Post
Moragalla
Aluthgama  
+94 34 227 6049 +94 71 770 8810
Arugam bay – Pothuvil Tourist Police Post
Arugam bay  
+94 11 308 1044
Negombo – Eththukala Tourist Police Post
Eththukala
Negombo  
+94 31 227 5555 +94 71 538 0071  
Kalkuda – Pasikuda Kalkuda Police Post   +94 065-2257707
Rambukkana – Pinnawala Tourist Police Post
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Premises  
+94 76 719 5607

Part 2 – Guidelines to follow

Sri Lankan government has submitted a full guideline document for tourists. (You can download it from here) This document include following sections,

  • Entry procedure to the country
  • Procedure at the airport
  • Airport transfers and travel options within the country
  • Accommodation sector
  • Tourist facilities and services
  • Travel agents, Tour operators and tour crews
  • Visiting tourist attractions sites and attending tourist activities
  • Roles and responsibilities of local authorities
  • Responsibility of security personnel and tourist police
  • Departure at the airport

Under this part of this article you can find the brief summery of all of above sections. (Read this section carefully.)

Entering the country

  • Prior booking of tour packages can only be done online or via SLTDA registered travel agencies.
  • Mandatory to stay minimum of five nights at Sri Lanka
  • Book accommodation only at SLTDA registered and security certified locations

Sri Lankan Visa procedure

  • On arrival visa is suspended
  • All tourists must obtain online tourist visa before arriving at Sri Lanka
  • The tourist visa fee is raised to USD 100.

To obtain online visa you will have to provide few documents,

  • A valid travel insurance
  • A valid return tickets
  • Confirmed reservation made at SLTDA certified accommodation places.

The travel insurance should cover health and hospitalisation during the entire stay. You cannot stay at any hotel or place of your friend or a place you find through social medias. You must choose a SLTDA registered and safe and secure certified accommodation. During the Visa process you must provide the reservation information to verify where you will be staying during your visit.

After arriving at CMB

After arriving at CMB airport you will have to provide all the necessary information to the immigration officers and the government health officials. You need to provide a negative PCR report issued by an accredited lab. The report should be taken 72 hours prior to the landing in Sri Lanka.

After you arrive at Sri Lanka again you will have to face a PCR test at the airport.  The test is free of charge and after the negative confirmation for COVID-19 you can enter the country. A repeat test will be conducted 5 to 7 days after the arrival for everyone. If any tourist develop respiratory disease symptoms they will also have to go through a PCR test as soon as possible. 

Which parts of Sri Lanka have reported cases?

You can visit the Official covid 19 dashboard of Health ministry to discover real time statistics. You can also use www.worldometers.info to access live data about COVID-19.

According to the health promotion bureau the top 5 districts are Colombo, Gampaha, Puttalam, Kaluthara and Kandy.  150 patients were found in Colombo district, thirty six in Gampha district , Thirty five in Puttalama district, Thirty four in Kaluthara district and Thirteen in Kandy district.

Comparing to the other provinces the population density in the western province is very high. That might be a reason why the western province have more infected people than other areas. However out of the 2081 of reported cases ( as on 8th July 2020) majority of the people were Sri Lanka Navy officers and soldiers from Walisara Camp.

Why Sri Lanka is Safe?

As in the second week of July 7 months after identifying the first Covid infected person in Sri Lanka, only 2,077 cases were confirmed. According to the health promotion bureau the recovery rate in Sri Lanka is 92.3% while the global recovey rate is 57.39%. Sri Lanka is also reporting a very low fatality rate comparing to the world statistics. Fatality rate in Sri Lanka is 0.53% (Eleven deaths confirmed.) while the global fatality rate is 4.6%.  Therefor Sri Lanka successfully managed the covid 19 pandemic inside the country.

As in March Sri Lankan Army built more than forty five quarantine centres to send any COVID-19 suspect people. (Source Wikipedia) Unlike in many other countries the Sri Lankan quarantine centres are clean and safe with all the essential facilities such as WIFI, TV, bathrooms, good food, etc.  Once a COVID-19 patient is identified the government agents seek and discover any possible contacts that may have got exposed to the patient and they will be either send to a quarantine centre or will be instructed to self quarantine.  All returning Sri Lankans from COVID countries were quarantined for 14 days to make sure they are COVID-19 free.

Ground level health supervision

Sri Lanka’s ground level  health sector is empowered with qualified and educated PHI (Public health inspector) officers. Ineach administrative area atleast a one public health inspector is monitoring the area. They know the area well and they are working with all other government officials such as law enforcement, medical professionals, administrative officers (Each area has an administrative officer called Grama niladhari) to avoid any possible infection chances.

These officers also monitor all the public gathering places to make sure the places are following the guideline to avoid the spreading of COVID-19.

So, Sri Lanka is safer than most other countries to visit.

What guidelines Sri Lankan people are following at the moment?

All Sri Lankans are well aware about the ongoing situation and following the guidelines issued by the government. Police make it mandatory to wear a mask when travelling.  (Source –NewsFirst) So, All the people are wearing masks and some are even wearing gloves and face shields to avoid getting infections. No matter where you go. Temples, shopping malls, shops, banks, government institutions, the security officers measure the body temperature of each person enter a building. If someone’s body temperature is above the normal limits the security officers will not allow them to pass through.

At the entrance of all public places there are places to wash hand either with a sanitiser soap or sanitiser alcohol.  In most places security officers are monitoring these sanitiser hand wash areas and no one will be allowed to trans pass without cleaning their hands.

Important things to keep in mind

  • Always wear a mask in public
  • Maintain the 1 meter social distance.
  • Keep a hand sanitiser in your pocket.
  • Better to wear hand gloves

If you are feeling unwell

If you have Covid-19 symptoms, call the free COVID-19 advisory hotline established by the ministry of health. Don’t go anywhere. Don’t even go to a general hospital. Stay in the hotel and avoid contact with other people and call 1390 tall free number and a qualified doctor will assist you to understand your situation. Then the health officials will take care of you safely.

This service is totally free and will not cost even a call charge. This service is available in three languages. Sinhala, Tamil and English. So, you don’t need to worry about language barriers. Also, for other medical emergencies you can contact the free ambulance service with para medics by calling tall free 1990.

The health service director general Dr. Anil Jasingha said “hotline has been established by the Ministry of Health as a measure to stop the spread of the corona-virus to doctors, nurses and other persons who unknowingly come into contact with individuals with minor symptoms.” (source – News.lk)

Insted of travelling to a hospital first contact the 1390. Explain your symptoms to a doctor and then the doctor will advice you what to do. You don’t need to panic. The doctors will verify the symptoms and if necessary they will dispatch an ambulance to admit you to a care unit.

How to prevent from getting COVID-19

The following methods were advised by the world health organisation to prevent the disease from spreading and to slow the transmission, (Source – World health organisation)

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre distance between you and people coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.
  • Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs.
  • Practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19

If you are planning of traveling or getting in to the crowded places you are more vulnerable of getting the SARS COV 2 virus. So, it is essential to keep an idea about what symptoms a covid-19 infected person can show. Also, if you are getting any of these symptoms it is very important to contact Sri Lankan health authorities via phone (call 1390) without going anywhere.

The world health organisation announced the symptoms of COVID-19 as following. ( Source -WHO.int )

Serious Symptoms

  • Difficulty of breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Loss of speech
  • Loss of movement

If you are getting any of these symptoms call a qualified doctor. Use the tall free government health advisory number 1390 or call the ambulance service by dialling 1990 and explain the situation you are having. Do not leave your room or expose to any other personal around you.

If your travel partner is facing this issue then avoid direct contacts with he or she and call the emergency numbers immediately.

“On average it takes 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days.’  (World health organisation)

Most common symptoms:

  • fever.
  • dry cough.
  • tiredness.

Source – WHO.int

Less common symptoms:

  • aches and pains.
  • sore throat.
  • diarrhoea.
  • conjunctivitis.
  • headache.
  • loss of taste or smell.
  • a rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes.

Source – WHO.int

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