The Minuwangoda Brandix factory worker who first tested positive for Covid-19 had to also endure a vicious mud-slinging campaign on social media. Her husband M. A. A. Amarasinghe spoke out in defence of her and described the harm done to them by social media. This is what he had to say:
“We live in a rented house in Bomugammana in the Horagasmulla area in Divulapitiya where I was born. My wife worked in the Brandix company. Six days before she contracted the coronavirus, my wife had a fever. So we informed of her inability to report to work. But the company management did not approve of her leave. Workers were instructed to seek medical treatment from within the company if they had fever.
“Now when entering any company, the temperature is supposed to be checked. But how are those with high temperatures allowed into the company? We believe the temperature check had not been done properly. How else could she have entered the place on three days?
“On September 28 my wife sought treatment from the company medical centre. The company had denied her leave and given her treatment. Later she had felt a sudden tightening in her chest. Then a group from the company had taken her to the Gampaha Hospital. As soon as we were informed that she had been admitted, we went to see her.
"We learned that some workers in the company had begun spreading false news on social media to protect the officers of the factory. This situation arose as my wife was the first person to be detected as a Covid-19 patient"
“Three days later we were told she could be discharged. The hospital authorities discharged her claiming everything was fine. They said the PCR test results had not yet arrived, but they said my wife had no illness and that she had been cured.
“Later, our area PHI phoned us and informed that my wife had contracted Covid-19. She was admitted to the IDH Hospital. We were taken to a quarantine centre in Galle and PCR tests were done on us. The tests revealed our daughter too was infected. She was also admitted to IDH. Later we learned, that various false stories about my wife and family were being circulated on social media.
“Every day my wife boards the company bus at 6.40 am and comes home at 8 or 8.10 pm. Because she is a supervisor she doesn’t get leave. Even on Saturdays, she works till 7 or 8 pm. So she doesn’t even have time to go to the shop. The Divulapitya fair is on Thursday and ends by 6 or 7 pm. Since my wife comes home at 8 pm she cannot buy goods and prepare dinner. So usually I prepare dinner with our child.
“We have been married for 21 years. Nobody in this village or in the surrounding areas has ever told anything about my wife. My wife minds her own business and prefers to stay at home with the children.
“We learned that some workers in the company had begun spreading false news on social media to protect the officers of the factory. This situation arose as my wife was the first person to be detected as a Covid-19 patient. If it was discovered a few days later, the situation could have been more serious.
“It was good that my wife showed symptoms due to the weakness of her body. But now I and my children have been put in a situation where we feel like taking poison and dying. We are even unsure if we will be allowed to live in our rented house when we go back. Social media has ruined our lives. “We ask the authorities to ensure that no such events occur in the future. We can’t face society now. We feel helpless. Society regards us as if we caused the disease.”