Colombo: Top officials of a Hindu temple in Sri Lanka have been arrested for holding a festival despite a ban on large gatherings amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, according to a media report.

A huge crowd attended the festival at the Sri Kamakshi Amman Kovil temple in Tamil-dominated Jaffna without maintaining social distance or wearing face masks, the Colombo Gazette newspaper reported.

Police said that the Chairman and Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the temple have been arrested for holding the event despite a ban.

Such large events have been banned by the Government until May 31.

Last week, the government announced that tuition classes, parties and public gatherings have been banned until May 31st after Sri Lanka was placed on Alert Level 3 following the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

Also read: New and more potent strain of coronavirus detected in Sri Lanka

Health officials have warned of a potential surge to follow the traditional new year festivals in mid-April.

According to new health guidelines, casinos, night clubs and beach parties have also been temporarily banned.

Government and private offices have been told to operate with minimum staff while others work from home.  

Sri Lanka, on Tuesday, reported 1,111 COVID-19 cases, the highest number in a day since the coronavirus was first detected on the Indian Ocean island nation in March 2020.

Health officials have warned of a potential surge to follow the traditional new year festival in mid-April.

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