Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Colombo, Sri Lanka (April 10, 2020)

Location: Sri Lanka

Event: COVID-19 in Sri Lanka. Updates are being sent daily 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.
  • The Sri Lanka Ministry of Health confirmed 190 cases of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka.
  • Qatar and Sri Lankan airlines are providing limited commercial flights departing 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 May 12, 2020.

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 significantly diminished. Flight schedules and availability change frequently. In Sri Lanka, all incoming passenger arrivals have been suspended indefinitely. 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 Sri Lankan government declared an island-wide curfew as of 2 p.m. on March 26, 2020. Changes to the curfew are being announced on short notice. Travel to the airport for ticketed passengers will be permitted. However, travelers will need to use alternate routes due to

the closure of expressways. Travelers should be prepared to show their passports and airline tickets at checkpoints. Taxi drivers will be allowed to return from the airport if they have a copy of their passenger’s ticket.

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

The government of Sri Lanka has implemented measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. Schools and universities are closed until April 20, 2020. Visit the local government COVID-19 website for updated information.

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

Actions to Take:

  • Consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information.
  • Visit the COVID-19 crisis page on for the latest information.
  • Check with your airlines, cruise lines, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
  • Visit our Embassy webpage on COVID-19 )for information on conditions in Sri Lanka.