Sri Lankan PM suspends ruling party rallies

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has informed the ruling political party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), to temporarily halt election rallies following a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases from a drug rehabilitation centre.

Following the his announcement on Sunday, the ruling party in a statement said that all election rallies to be held from Monday to Wednesday, which were to be attended by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and also the Prime Minister have been cancelled until further notice to comply with health guidelines, reports Xinhua news agency.

Founder of the SLPP, Basil Rajapaksa, in the statement requested all party candidates to limit their meetings and scale down small rallies as well.

Sri Lanka is slated hold its crucial parliamentary elections on August 5 which will elect a new 225-member Parliament.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Elections Commission has said several new health guidelines will be in place to enable voters to cast their ballots on polling day.

The number of positive COVID-19 patients reached 2,617 on Sunday evening after 94 people tested positive during the day, majority of them from the Kandakadu Rehabilitation Center, the government information department said.

The Health Ministry said that the sudden spike in the number of cases was because of the rehab centre which has now become a cluster with over 300 inmates and three counsellors testing positive over the weekend.

The Ministry added the situation was well under control but the number of patients could rise in the coming days.

The death toll currently stood at 11.