Sri Lankan president says COVID-19 cases are rising again

August 2, 2022 GMT
FILE- Sri Lanka's new prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe gestures during an interview with The Associated Press in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, June 11, 2022. Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2022, said the number of COVID-19 patients and deaths are rising in the Indian ocean island nation and urged the citizen to get themselves inoculated with the 4th dose of the vaccine in a bid to prevent a possible outbreak of the virus. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)
FILE- Sri Lanka's new prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe gestures during an interview with The Associated Press in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, June 11, 2022. Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2022, said the number of COVID-19 patients and deaths are rising in the Indian ocean island nation and urged the citizen to get themselves inoculated with the 4th dose of the vaccine in a bid to prevent a possible outbreak of the virus. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)
FILE- Sri Lanka's new prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe gestures during an interview with The Associated Press in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, June 11, 2022. Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2022, said the number of COVID-19 patients and deaths are rising in the Indian ocean island nation and urged the citizen to get themselves inoculated with the 4th dose of the vaccine in a bid to prevent a possible outbreak of the virus. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)
FILE- Sri Lanka's new prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe gestures during an interview with The Associated Press in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, June 11, 2022. Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2022, said the number of COVID-19 patients and deaths are rising in the Indian ocean island nation and urged the citizen to get themselves inoculated with the 4th dose of the vaccine in a bid to prevent a possible outbreak of the virus. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)
FILE- Sri Lanka's new prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe gestures during an interview with The Associated Press in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, June 11, 2022. Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2022, said the number of COVID-19 patients and deaths are rising in the Indian ocean island nation and urged the citizen to get themselves inoculated with the 4th dose of the vaccine in a bid to prevent a possible outbreak of the virus. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — COVID-19 cases and deaths are rising in Sri Lanka, and citizens should receive a fourth vaccine dose to prevent a possible surge of the coronavirus, the president said Tuesday.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe said there were only three reported COVID-19 deaths in June. That rose to 35 in July, including 28 who succumbed after July 18.

There were 283 confirmed cases in June and 1,616 in July, he said.

Wickremesinghe said in a statement that only 22,623 people have received a fourth vaccine dose, compared to 8 million who received a third dose.

Sri Lanka has reported a total of 665,847 confirmed cases and 16,559 deaths from the virus.

Almost all COVID-19-related restrictions have been eased in recent months as cases sharply declined. But the health ministry last week urged the public to wear face masks indoors, on public transport and in public gatherings.