<br>Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella announced that the island-wide lockdown will come into effect from Friday night and will end on August 30. However, essential services would function as normal, he said.
As per the latest available records, on August 18, as many as 186 deaths and 3,793 new cases were reported, taking the overall death toll to 6,790.
With the island nation facing its worst-ever bout of the pandemic, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is set to address the nation on Friday night. The President is likely speak primarily on the pandemic and the 'dire' economic situation that the country is facing.
Health workers, experts, opposition parties and 10 allies of the government have demanded to shut the country to control the surging deaths and new cases.
The opposition and health trade unions had even urged people to go on self-isolation if the government didn't close the country. A large number of cities have voluntarily closed to prevent the spread of the virus.
Lately, politically influential Chief Prelates of two leading Buddhist chapters had urged the President to lockdown the country to curb the pandemic.
State Minister of Indigenous Medicine Promotion and Community Health, Channa Jayasumana, told the media that the President has decided to close the country on the request made by the Buddhist Prelates.