A youth at his home watches Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa address the nation over the Covid-19 coronavirus situation, in Colombo on Tuesday. Photo: AFP: Ishara S. Kodiikara

Sri Lanka has indefinitely postponed parliamentary elections that were scheduled for next month to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Even if the WHO says Sri Lanka is free of this virus tomorrow, we will not be able to conduct the election on April 25,” election chief Mahinda Deshapriya said Thursday.

“Whether we can have the vote in May, June or July will depend on how quickly the virus can be tackled.”

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had been hoping the elections would give his party a two-thirds majority in parliament, allowing it to change the constitution and secure him wider powers.

Sri Lanka has 53 cases of the virus. This week the country closed its international airports and placed under curfew an area that is home to 850,000 people.