The Coronavirus, also named ‘2019-nCoV’, made its first appearance in Wuhan City in the Hubei Province of China. Since its discovery of its first reported case on 31st December, the virus has now infected over 20,000 people in countries around the world, including 1 confirmed case in Sri Lanka, who has since made a recovery. Travellers heading to Sri Lanka are urged to take a number of precautionary measures in order to avoid contamination and the spread of the virus.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are usually transmitted between animals and people. The Coronavirus is believed to have spread from the unsafe consumption of exotic wild animals like bats, however this has yet to be scientifically proven. The virus is said to be contagious for up to 14 days.
Symptoms of Coronavirus
The symptoms starts off with a sore throat, cough, cold and later become more severe by turning into a pneumonia-type fever, similar to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS – CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The Spread of the Virus
From January 2020, the number of infected patients grew from the Hubei Province and then quickly grew from other cities and several other countries as well. On 24th January, the World Health Organization reported that 846 confirmed novel coronavirus cases of which 830 originated from China. Out of the 11 cases reported from around the world, 10 individuals had a recent travel history to Wuhan City. Only 1 confirmed case was reported in Sri Lanka, a Chinese national, who has now made a full recovery as of 3rd January 2020.
Travelling to Sri Lanka
To curb the spread of the virus, authorities in Sri Lanka at all ports of entry have implemented the following cautionary measures,
- Travellers are advised to report to the health desk – which is open 24/7, if they have any symptoms – coughing, high fever, cold or difficulty in breathing.
- Passengers with any signs or symptoms will then be screened at the airport health desk to determine the possibility of the coronavirus. After which, appropriate measures will be taken.
- Thermal scanners are installed in the airport to detect passengers with high temperatures.
In addition, the Sri Lankan government has requested authorities to remove the On-Arrival visa for all Chinese nationals. All passengers travelling from China are routinely checked and ensured they are not showing any symptoms.
As a general precaution, the public has been advised to adhere to normal hygiene and health standards to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Public areas should be avoided.
- Individuals who are coughing or sneezing, should wear a surgical mask or cover their mouth with a tissue. Tissues should be discarded immediately afterwards.
- Hands should be washed and sanitized.
- Avoid being in proximity to someone who has a cough or fever.
- Report to your nearest medical hospital immediately if you have any symptoms or have recently travelled to a city where the virus has been reported.
Is It Safe To Travel To Sri Lanka?
The paradise island of Sri Lanka has not had any new confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It is thus safe to visit and travel around the country, so long as you follow the general hygiene measures and take proper care of your health. Remember to drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated and should you be ill with the common cold and flu, it might be in your best interest to heal completely before travelling to Sri Lanka, as passengers showing any symptoms will kept under 24 hour observation before being released.
While there are no new cases of the virus reported in Sri Lanka, the public is advised to remain vigilant and monitor a change in their health, especially in terms of any respiratory illnesses and a change in body temperature.
In addition, a separate 24/7 helpline was set up for those with clarifications on the virus and can be found here – (+94) 710 107 107 / (+94) 113 071 073.