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Sri Lanka suspends visa on arrival for Chinese citizens after first case of coronavirus

Sri Lanka suspends visa on arrival for Chinese citizens after first case of coronavirus
Highlights

A total of 204 students have been evacuated in the last three days.

Colombo: Sri Lanka on Tuesday suspended its visa on arrival facility for travellers from China, its third-largest tourism source market, a day after authorities here detected the country's first coronavirus infection.

Sudath Suraweera, the chief epidemiologist of the country's health ministry, said on Monday that a 40-year-old Chinese woman was found positive for the virus.

"She arrived on January 19 and was tested positive for the virus when she was leaving the airport on January 25. She was admitted to the infectious diseases hospital," he said.

Following the first detection of the coronavirus case, the Sri Lankan health authorities ordered the suspension of the on-arrival visa policy for Chinese nationals.

Travellers from China must apply for a visa via the online portal, the authorities said.

Sri Lanka has become a major travel destination for Chinese tourists.

Many Chinese nationals also work on Chinese-funded infrastructure projects - including a seaport, port city and highways.

China was Sri Lanka's third-largest tourism source market with 167,863 arrivals last year.

The highest Chinese tourist arrivals were recorded in January and February during the peak Lunar New Year season.

The officials at Colombo international airport said the entry to the airport's arrival and departure terminals had been restricted to passengers only.

Some 65 Sri Lankan students in China returned by Monday. Another flight to evacuate students is due to leave on Tuesday.

A total of 204 students have been evacuated in the last three days.

The government has said that it has completed the collection of information on students in China. A National Action Committee to prevent the spreading of coronavirus was convened on Monday.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed the committee comprising health experts.

The death toll in China's deadly coronavirus epidemic has crossed the 100 marks while the confirmed cases have gone up to 4,200.

In April last year, Sri Lanka suspended its plans to grant visas on arrival for citizens of 39 countries after the devastating Easter suicide bombings that killed nearly 360 people.

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