Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Colombo, Sri Lanka

June 16, 2020

Location:  Sri Lanka

Event:  COVID-19 in Sri Lanka.  Updates are being sent regularly for the benefit of new registrants in STEP.  New information is listed in the top bullets.

Recent Updates:

  • The embassy strongly urges those who wish to return to the United States to explore commercial flight options immediately, as there is no guarantee that the U.S. government will be able to arrange evacuation flights if airspace closes.

Note:  Waiting and expecting to rely on an evacuation flight is not the best strategy.  Evacuation flights are not free-of-charge.  Frequently, evacuation flights cost more than commercial air travel.

  • Qatar and Sri Lankan airlines are providing limited commercial flights departing Sri Lanka.  Qatar Airways has created a dedicated email address for those seeking to depart during this time:
  • The Sri Lanka Ministry of Health confirmed 1,905 cases of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka.
  • The Sri Lankan Department of Immigration has extended the validity period of all types of visas issued to all foreigners currently in Sri Lanka up to  11th June, 2020. For more information on how to apply for an extension and other queries, please visit the following website:

On March 19, 2020, the Department of State issued a global Level 4 Health Advisory (Do Not Travel) advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.  In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.

If an American Citizen is determined to have COVID-19, he or she is likely to be placed in mandatory quarantine in a local government hospital, consistent with Sri Lankan protocols.  The Embassy is severely limited in its ability to visit individuals under quarantine and may be unable, as a practical matter, to secure the release of U.S. citizens until their complete recovery.

The number of commercial flights departing Sri Lanka has diminished.  Flight schedules and availability change frequently.  Travelers should be prepared for additional travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. U.S. citizens who are considering returning to the United States are urged to work with their airlines to make travel arrangements while flights are still available.  We strongly encourage travelers to depart as soon as possible as scheduled flights may be cancelled with little advance warning.  There are no plans for chartered or other evacuation flights from Sri Lanka to the United States.  

The government of Sri Lanka has established hotlines for tourists who are facing problems scheduling transportation to the airport for departure:

+94 (011) 244-4480
+94 (011) 244-4481
+94 (011) 597-8730
+94 (011) 597-8734
+94 (011) 597-8720

Visit the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health Epidemiology Unit COVID-19 website for updated health information.

Actions to Take: