Asia Today: Sri Lanka to strictly enforce virus regulations

Sri Lanka police say they will strictly enforce mask and social distancing requirements and punish violators as other anti-virus measures are eased to reduce the economic pain

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lanka police will strictly enforce mask and social distancing requirements and punish violators starting Monday as other anti-virus measures are eased to reduce the economic pain.

Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said 120 people have been arrested for failing to wear face masks and maintain social distancing in public places during the last 10 days. Coronavirus rules introduced last month carry a penalty of a $54 fine, six months' imprisonment or both.

“From today onwards, we will strictly enforce this law and will arrest those who defy these rules,” Rohana said.

Passenger trains resumed operating after nearly two weeks and the government lifted a curfew that had been in effect in the capital, Colombo, and its suburbs. Only pockets where infections are high will remain under isolation with no one permitted to enter or leave the area.

Sri Lanka has counted 13,929 COVID-19 patients with 35 deaths since the pandemic began. Both figures have been increasing because of two recent clusters that account for more than 9,900 of the total infections.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

Cambodians are marking their Independence Day holiday, but new coronavirus restrictions are keeping them from celebrating at karaoke parlors, beer gardens, museums, cinemas and other entertainment venues which have been ordered shut until further notice. Students in the capital, Phnom Penh, and the satellite town of Kandal will not be returning to schools on Tuesday because they have been ordered shut for two weeks. The restrictions were issued because Hungary’s foreign minister tested positive for the coronavirus after a one-day visit to Cambodia last week. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced Saturday that a Cambodian bodyguard for Szijjarto had tested positive. A second round of tests on Monday discovered three more infected people among more than 900 involved with the visit.

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India has reported 45,903 new coronavirus cases, with its capital recording the highest single-day rise in infections since the pandemic began. The Health Ministry on Monday also reported 490 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities in the country to 126,611. New Delhi’s increase of 7,745 cases comes during a recent surge the government has attributed to crowding in markets during the ongoing festive season, winter weather and high air pollution. The capital’s air quality levels are plummeting to the “severe” category. A recent government report projected New Delhi may see up to 15,000 daily cases in the winter months. India has counted more than 8.5 million cases since the pandemic began, the second-highest total behind the U.S.

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