A prominent doctors' body in Sri Lanka warned of a second wave of COVID-19 infections in the country after thousands of people defying social distancing rules gathered to pay tributes to a prominent Tamil minister, who died earlier this week.
Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) leader Arumugam Thondaman, who represented Tamils of Indian origin, passed away on Tuesday and is due to be cremated on Sunday in the central hilly Nuwara Eliya district.
Tens of thousands of his supporters gathered to pay respects to Thondaman, defying all quarantine regulations put in place to curb the pandemic.
In a statement on Saturday, the doctors' body warned that gatherings at the politician's funeral could trigger the second wave of coronavirus infection.
Thondaman's body was taken to the national parliament on Thursday for a lie-in-state and for public viewing at his Ceylon Workers' Congress party head office in Colombo before it was airlifted to his home district of Nuwara Eliya.
The doctors expressed their "displeasure" over the public funeral of Thondaman at a time when health authorities had asked people to restrict funerals to the closest family.
The country will impose a nation-wide curfew tomorrow.
The government already declared curfew in Nuwara Eliya district on Saturday ahead of the funeral.
The island nation has reported a sudden spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, mainly among those who were recently repatriated from overseas.
The country has recorded 1,559 infections as of Saturday with 10 deaths. Over 750 of the COVID-19 patients have been discharged from hospitals.
Only this week the government formally ended the lockdown imposed since March 20 by lifting daytime curfew in the capital district of Colombo.