Colombo: In view of the rising number of the novel coronavirus cases globally, Sri Lanka on Tuesday suspended all international flights arriving in the country. Also Read - Central Railways Cancels 22 'Low Occupancy' Trains to Contain Spread of Coronavirus

The deadly virus, which originated in China in December last year, has spread to 155 countries, infected 182,406 people and claimed 7,154 lives, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus tracker. Sri Lanka so far has 29 confirmed coronavirus cases. Also Read - Coronavirus: Public Transport to Remain Open, no Closure of Govt Offices,’ Clarifies Maha CM

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office said a decision has been made to suspend all international flights arriving in the country with effect from Tuesday due growing threat of the spread of the coronavirus. Also Read - Road Safety World Series: Sri Lanka Legends Beat Australia Legends by Seven Runs

The government on Tuesday also extended the public holiday till March 19 to prevent the spread of the virus across the country. Earlier, it was declared for March 16.

Although the state offices will remain closed, essential services such as food supplies and banks will continue to function, the information department said.

The doctors’ trade union has urged the president to order a complete lockdown of the country in order to facilitate the prevention operations.

The government also announced the appointment of Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, who is the chief of the Army, to head the National Operations Center for Prevention of COVID-19.

The Army is already in charge of the quarantine centres where the suspected cases are kept under observation.