By Munza Mushtaq
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AA) - Sri Lanka on Tuesday suspended its issuance of visas on arrival to Chinese tourists as a measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the island country.
Inspecting the country's main Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told reporters that the suspension would have "immediate effect."
"Hereafter, they [Chinese nationals] have to submit their visa application while in China before arriving in Sri Lanka. We will issue the visa to the applicant only after carefully scrutinizing the applicant's province and other information," said Wanniarachchi.
On Monday evening, Sri Lanka's Health Promotion Bureau confirmed the country's first coronavirus case.
An official from the bureau told Anadolu Agency that a Chinese woman in her mid-40s from the Hubei province who was part of a tour group that arrived in the country last week had tested positive for the virus, and was currently receiving treatment at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Colombo.
Director of Health Services, Dr. Anil Jasinghe said at a press conference in Colombo that a virus sample from the patient would be sent overseas for further testing.
Meanwhile, airport authorities have installed body temperature screening machines to detect the virus. On Tuesday, officials prohibited visitors from accompanying passengers from entering the airport until further notice.
Also, on the orders of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, steps have been taken to repatriate Sri Lankan students studying in China, including from Wuhan, where the coronavirus first broke out. All students arriving in the country from China will be moved to an army camp in Diyathalawa town, some 205 kilometers (127 miles) from Colombo, and will undergo observation for two weeks.