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Sri Lanka to resume repatriation flights from July 31

Sri Lanka to resume repatriation flights from July 31
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Highlights

The government halted the repatriation of its citizens from various countries from July 14 in view of the increasing number of cases.

Colombo: Sri Lanka will resume flights to repatriate its citizens stranded overseas due to the coronavirus pandemic, a top official said on Wednesday.

The government halted the repatriation of its citizens from various countries from July 14 in view of the increasing number of cases.

Admiral Jayanath Colombage, Additional Secretary to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said two flights have been scheduled for July 31 and August 1 to repatriate Sri Lankans from Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Nearly 600 Sri Lankans are expected to return via the two flights.

"We had to temporarily halt the repatriation flights from July 14 due to a sudden spike of COVID-19 infections in a drug rehabilitation centre.

We have been able to successfully control it. This means that the space in the quarantine centre has been made free," Colombage said.

The next few flights have been scheduled predominantly focussing on the Middle East, especially countries such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Over 500 coronavirus cases reported from a drug rehabilitation centre in the north-central region had raised fears of a second wave of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka, which reopened its businesses in mid-May.

It was suspected that the infections at the drug rehabilitation centre were caused by an ex-pat worker who returned from Dubai.

Admiral Jayanath Colombage said nearly 50,000 Sri Lankans stranded overseas have registered with their relevant embassies requesting to be repatriated.

As a majority of these Sri Lankans have lost their jobs and places of residence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the responsibility of the government to assist them and repatriate them, he said.

Colombage said once they are repatriated, attention will be focused on creating and granting jobs for these Sri Lankans, the Colombo Gazette reported.

Sri Lanka has so far reported 2,810 cases. The virus has claimed 11 lives, while 600 are currently undergoing treatment at various hospitals across the country.

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