Amended guidelines for travellers issued

Issuing further amendments on Quarantine measures for travellers arriving from overseas, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Director General Health Services (DGHS), Dr. Asela Gunawardena said all travellers of two years and above arriving in Sri Lanka should mandatorily carry a negative COVID-19 PCR test report in the English language that has been done within 72 hours prior to embarkation. 

Issuing further amendments to be implemented from Saturday (17) Dr. Gunawardena said, that a predeparture COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) would “not be acceptable”. Introducing further amendments on ‘day seven’ PCR test for fully vaccinated travellers with negative, on arrival PCR reports, he said those who have not arrived from travel restricted country and are released from quarantine with an on arrival negative COVID-19 report do not have to undergo COVID-19 PCR test on ‘day seven’. 

Unvaccinated children of two to 18 years, who have been released with the fully vaccinated parents should undergo a COVID-19 PCR test on ‘day seven’, after arriving in Sri Lanka, from a Health Ministry approved private sector or State sector laboratory. ‘Day seven’ PCR test results should be immediately informed to the area Medical Officer of Health (MoH) by telephone or email. Dr. Gunawardena said travellers with a travel history (including transit) in the past 14 days to India and South American countries and South African countries such as South Africa, Angola, Botswana. 

Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe will not be permitted to disembark in Sri Lanka until further notice. However, Sri Lankan citizens and their foreign national spouses, dual citizens and their foreign national spouses, valid resident visa holders, foreign national staff members of the diplomatic missions and foreign nationals arriving for important projects, meetings or discussions as invited by the Sri Lankan Government would be allowed to disembark in Sri Lanka despite arriving from or transiting in travel restricted countries. 

Also all Sri Lankan citizens and foreign nationals who have been granted approval to arrive from travel restricted countries have to undergo mandatory institutional quarantine irrespective of their vaccinated status at a quarantine hotel centre. They will be released from institutional quarantine only after obtaining a negative PCR done on day 14 of arrival in Sri Lanka, the DGHS said. He said that Vietnam had been removed from the list of travel restricted countries. 

Meanwhile, the DGHS issuing guidelines on preventive measures at religious places, during the COVID-19 pandemic said that in order to protect clergy, staff, worshippers and others from COVID-19 at religious places said there should not be overcrowding outside and inside, entrance, lobbies, waiting areas, preaching halls and prayer halls. 

They should also have floor markings at least one metre apart at the entrance, lobbies, waiting areas and prayer halls to ensure the physical distancing of persons in all directions. Pews and benches too should be marked at least one metre apart. He said that the number of persons allowed to enter should be related to the number of persons that can be placed at least one metre apart in preaching halls and prayer halls. The maximum number should not exceed 100. 

“Ensure good ventilation while facilities should be made available to wash hands with soap and water.” Dr. Gunawardena said that special religious activities such as processions, festivals, food distribution or kavadi should not be conducted until further notice. Also passing of flower trays, pots of water, etc should not be performed during Buddha poojas or Bodhi poojas. 

He said that during Holy Communion at church, the priests should distribute the consecrated host to the hands of the communicant instead of placing it on his or her tongue. The priest should also wear a mask during communion while sharing of wine during communion should not be practiced. (DJ)

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