Eighty nine of 3 ,923 Sri Lankan expatriate workers who contracted COVID- 19 while working in the Middle East had succumbed to the illness, Labour Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva told Parliament yesterday.

The deaths have occurred between March and December last year, he said.

The Minister said this in response to a question raised by NPP  MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake in Parliament.

The Minister said  Sri  Lankan expatriate workers who succumb to COVID-19 are entitled to  Rs 500,000 as part of their life insurance scheme if they  are registered with the Foreign Employment Bureau while family members are also paid Rs50,00 as compensation.

He also said that 31,102 Sri Lankan  workers from the Middle East have returned to the country  aft the outbreak of the coronavirus while there are around 70,000 Lankans awaiting repatriation from 137  countries.

. “There are 69,000 Sri Lankan expatriates in 137 countries awaiting repatriation. Of these  41,451 have registered with the Sri tankan missions while the rest have left  the country illegally, overstayed their visas etc. and also want to return, “ he said.