Sri Lanka reports 1st omicron case in returnee from Nigeria

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka announced Friday it has confirmed its first case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in an unvaccinated person who returned from Nigeria.

Health ministry spokesperson Dr. Hemantha Herath said the 25-year-old Sri Lankan woman returned on Nov. 24, four days before the government banned travelers from six African countries.

He said she was tested at the airport because she was unvaccinated, and the result was positive. She was sent to a treatment facility and later discharged and is currently staying at her residence, he said.

In a bid to prevent the omicron variant from entering the country, Sri Lanka banned travelers who visited South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland starting Sunday.

It has eased many of its coronavirus restrictions following a sharp decline in cases and deaths in recent weeks. However, there continues to be a ban on public gatherings and restrictions on private gatherings.

A coronavirus surge struck in mid-April and the country was placed under a lockdown from Aug. 20 to Oct. 1.

At the peak, new daily infections rose to over 3,000 and deaths to more than 200. But daily infections have now fallen below 1,000 and deaths to under 50.

The country has confirmed 565,471 cases and 14,399 deaths.

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