Sri Lanka’s ruling party on Sunday called off its rallies ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections and delayed the international airport’s reopening over a surge in virus cases.

The country lifted its COVID-19 lockdown in late June after declaring there was no longer any community spread of the virus. But a swathe of cases emerged last week, including an outbreak at a drug rehabilitation centre last week that saw 253 patients test positive in a single night. “All public meetings where the President and the Prime Minister were due to attend today, tomorrow and the day after have been cancelled,” President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna- party said in a statement.

 

Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s brother Mahinda is the country’s Prime Minister. The party said all their candidates were also told to call off upcoming gatherings ahead of the August 5 poll.

Airport to remain closed

Aviation Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said on Sunday the international airport, which authorities had planned to reopen on August 1, would remain closed.

“We have decided in the interest of safety and well-being of our citizens to put off the reopening of airports,” he said.

A repatriation programme that has brought home some 12,000 Sri Lankans from overseas so far would also be suspended, Mr. Ranatunga added. The elections were to be held on April 25, but were postponed twice before being rescheduled for August. The country has reported 2,605 cases with 11 deaths so far.

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