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Scores of Sri Lankans test positive for coronavirus after returning from Kuwait

Sri Lanka is planning to ease its lockdown after a fall in coronavirus transmission [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 May, 2020

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Almost 160 Sri Lankans returning from Kuwait have tested positive for coronavirus, including one woman who has died.
Nearly 160 Sri Lankans repatriated from Kuwait last week have tested positive for coronavirus and one returnee has died, officials said Wednesday, with concern mounting about imported infections just as the nation eases its lockdown.

A total of 460 men and women - who were mostly working illegally in the Gulf state as domestic helpers or labourers - lost their jobs during virus shutdowns and returned to Sri Lanka on flights paid for by the Kuwaiti government.

While not all test results are known, some 156 have been found infected, officials said, and a 51-year-old woman died on Monday.

Another 270 Sri Lankans touched down from Qatar Wednesday and were also taken to quarantine centres for testing, according to officials.

"Our worry is imported cases," said health ministry director Paba Palihawadana.

"When they came here, they were already infected. We don't have any infections reported from within our community in the past 28 days.   

Some 38,000 of around 1.5 million Sri Lankans employed abroad had registered with authorities asking to return home, officials said.

Sri Lanka has reported 1,319 infections - including the returnees - and 10 deaths since the first virus case was detected on 27 January.

A lockdown, imposed on 20 March, was eased on Tuesday after the government said the virus was under control, but an overnight curfew remains in place.

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