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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Sri Lanka temporarily bans passengers from GCC due to rise in cases


Over 100 passengers travelling from Gulf countries have tested positive upon arriving in Sri Lanka. 

Passengers travelling from any Gulf country will no longer be allowed to enter Sri Lanka after over 100 people tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in the South Asian country, authorities announced.

The strict travel ban will be imposed on Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait starting July 1, 2021, and will stay in force until July 12, the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka stressed.

“In accordance with instructions received from the National Operations Centre for Prevention of Covid-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) Task Force, due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation all online and offline airlines are hereby directed that passengers with a travel history in the past 14 days to Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait will not be permitted to disembark in Sri Lanka,” Sri Lankan authorities said.

However, transit through the six countries is still permissible as it does not impose a serious health risk on the community.

Read also: Qatar opens one of world’s largest vaccination centres

The latest decision was taken after more than 100 passengers arriving from the Gulf tested positive in Sri Lanka, according to local media reports.

The South Asian country has been working on curbing its second wave of Covid-19 in recent weeks, with daily reported numbers finally decreasing drastically compared to the peak in May.

In order to ease travel before the restrictions come to effect, Sri Lankan airlines have advanced the timings of two of their flights from Doha to Colombo, allowing more passengers to rush into the country.

Qatar hosts a huge community Sri Lankan expat community, which means the ban will likely affect many people seeking to return home from Doha.

However, with Qatar’s vaccination campaign expanding and reported numbers decreasing, it is highly likely the ban will be extended past July 12.

Those arriving from Sri Lanka to Qatar, along with Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines are required to quarantine for ten days at a government-designated hotel.

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