Sri Lanka closes key state offices as virus outbreak surges

Authorities in Sri Lanka have closed key government offices and further expanded a curfew to contain a surging coronavirus outbreak

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Authorities in Sri Lanka closed key government offices and further expanded a curfew Thursday to contain a surging coronavirus outbreak.

The foreign ministry closed the consular affairs office for the week and suspended all services to prevent the public from congregating. The ministry said it would only accept queries and documentation assistance related to deaths of Sri Lankans overseas, strictly by appointment.

Other departments providing services related to revenue, immigration, pensions, vehicle license and registrations also closed for the week, and a state-sponsored exhibition was canceled.

The outbreak that surfaced this week has grown to 1,034 cases with more than 2,000 others asked to quarantine at home.

It is centered around a garment factory in the Colombo suburbs where the first patient and many others worked. Police have widened the curfew in the suburbs where many of the patients live. Schools have closed, public gatherings were ordered halted and restrictions were imposed on public transport.

The country has reported 4,252 cases, including 13 deaths. Of the total patients, 3,274 have recovered.