Stay safe by observing laws and health advice | Daily News

Stay safe by observing laws and health advice

Always wear a mask – or two
Always wear a mask – or two

Last week we read and heard news stories about how travel restrictions were violated and how the law was applied differently to different violators of these restrictions. But the most alarming news was about rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka in the middle of strict travel restrictions imposed islandwide since May 26. Travel restrictions were there even before that but they have been made stricter since May 26 according to the recommendations made by the health experts with the intention of breaking the 14-day cycle of COVID-19.

No matter what the Government and the health authorities do, the number of COVID-19 patients is increasing at an alarming rate and it has exceeded 3,000 per day on many days. No matter how strict the travel restrictions are, more and more people and vehicles come into roads day by day with fake or real identity cards and letters on letterheads. It seems that only the Government and the health authorities know the gravity of the situation and follow health guidelines while the people do their best to escape from the law and roam around the country with family members, friends or colleagues for no reason. Some people look like caged animals waiting to come out. 

According to the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA), 54 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Sri Lanka were reported during the last month (May) and the country is heading for a huge disaster if people behave like this and this disorganized vaccination programme implemented by the Epidemiology Unit continues giving a false sense of security to the vaccinated people while actually accelerating the spread of COVID-19.    

Clandestine parties have been held amidst travel restrictions.

Vaccination is not a special permit or a licence to roam around the country with family members, friends or colleagues. This is because vaccination prevents people from dying or being admitted to an ICU due to COVID-19 and they can get infected with COVID-19 even after two doses of any vaccine. The vaccines do not prevent a person from infecting another person with COVID-19. A vaccinated person can infect another vaccinated or non-vaccinated person with COVID-19 if they do not follow the simple health guidelines introduced by the Government and the health authorities in March last year to prevent COVID-19 infections.

The simple health guidelines which anyone can follow at any time without any problem or a high cost are wearing a standard surgical or more advanced (KN 95) face mask, washing contaminated hands with soap and water or using a standard (with over 75 percent alcohol) hand sanitizer whenever soap and water are not available, keeping at least a two-metre distance from another person and staying at home whenever possible. The other main issue is that vaccination takes time to develop immunity in the body. This period can be as long as several weeks. This immunity does not come like instant noodles. Unfortunately, people always look for instant results. 

People are looking for a way to come out from their homes and roam around the country no matter how much the Government and the health authorities try to educate them on the gravity of COVID-19. If this negative trend continues, Sri Lankan people will die just like the way Indian people are dying on the roads without medical care. There will be beds, ICUs, oxygen, etc., but there will be the same number of doctors, nurses and the other health professionals to look after them. They cannot be in more than one hospital at the same time. The people should not be stupid to expect their astral bodies to come and care for them while they are in duty in one hospital. Health staff cannot be created by performing magic. It takes years to do so.    

It is funny to see how some people call themselves ‘artistes’ and expect the law enforcement officers and judges to offer them special treatment just because they call themselves ‘artistes’. The ordinary people of this country do not care about them at all and they have more important issues such as how to find money to buy medicine and food, how to protect their jobs, how not to get COVID-19 while travelling by public transport and working inside small inside air conditioned offices, how to go to a hospital for other health problems, etc. They do not want to see or hear about these so-called ‘artistes’. People can live without them. They are not essential.

The vaccination drive has to be streamlined.

Sometimes ordinary people’s original identity cards and official letters issued by their bosses look suspicious to some police officers because the police officers come across many fake identity cards and letters. Such innocent ordinary people cannot even think about birthday parties thrown at five star hotels. They are thinking and worrying about removing the mask to have their meagre lunch at the air conditioned offices. The worst affected workforce is from garment factories where they are forced to sit almost touching each other and work for hours inside air conditioned environments. When one worker becomes COVID-19 positive they pray because they exactly know who the next victim is. But they cannot abandon their jobs and stay at home because they have to feed their families. 

Sri Lanka does not need laws if they are being implemented according to the sex (male or female), gender, popularity, economic strength, the number of important contacts one has, etc. The law should be the same for all no matter whether they are ordinary people or artistes. The standard of some so-called ‘artistes’ in Sri Lanka is very low and they expect publicity no matter what they do and where they go.

In the middle of all these the Epidemiology Unit still does not release accurate and updated data on the COVID-19 situation in Sri Lanka. According to the GMOA what is printed opposite all boxes on forms that should be filled with crucial data on the COVID-19 situation in Sri Lanka is ‘Not Available’. The GMOA showed the daily COVID-19 Situation Report to the media issued with ‘Not Available’ printed opposite the boxes which should be filled with important data such as the number of over the age of 60 individuals vaccinated so far, etc.

The GMOA questions why the Sri Lankan Epidemiology Unit cannot implement a scientific vaccination programme based on WHO and local guidelines if Bhutan can vaccinate 65 percent of the country’s total population within two weeks. The GMOA stated that 90 percent of COVID-19 deaths can be prevented through a properly planned vaccination programme. As a trade union, the GMOA did not stop there. It submitted a special report to the President last week with such a plan. 

Usually trade unions demand various things and no trade union offers solutions. This is why all the other trade unions become unpopular day by day in Sri Lanka while the GMOA wins the hearts of the people and the Government. What all the other trade unions should do is come up with attractive and practical solutions without causing trouble. 

Defeating COVID-19 is a collective effort. But unfortunately in Sri Lanka the contribution of people is lacking while the health sector and the Government are pushing forward. Sri Lankan people are used to ignoring everything, acting selfishly and blaming the Government for everything. But it will not work this time with COVID-19 because it is the people who will die. COVID-19 will reach us all today, tomorrow or one day in future no matter whether we are vaccinated or not.

The real vaccination process will be available in another few months, in a year or two when the scientists discover a magic vaccine similar to the vaccine available for Polio, etc. All current COVID-19 vaccines need to pass all relevant stages and reach the final stage to achieve 100 percent success. Then such a vaccine should be produced in the world and reach Sri Lanka. It will take a long time. Until then it is the duty of all Sri Lankans to protect themselves and not infect others with COVID-19.

A Security Forces bus waits to take people to quarantine centres.