Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry has reported that three more Covid-19 patients had recovered from the infection and was discharged from the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) in Angoda bringing the number of those discharged to 14 while 20 new patients were detected during the past 24 hours bringing the number of those tested positive to the COVID-19 infection to 142.
It said two patients had died from the coronavirus infection -- one a 60-year-old resident of Marawila, who was being treated at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the IDH. He was reported to have undergone a kidney transplant some years ago and also suffering from diabetes. The second patient to have died from the virus infection was a 64-year-old patient residing at Kochchikade in Negombo. He was undergoing treatment at the Negombo Hospital.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Media Division (PMD) said Police curfew imposed in nine districts in the country was lifted at 6.00 a.m. yesterday and re-imposed at 2.00 p.m. on the same day with the people being repeatedly reminded to strictly observe social distancing and follow all other health guidelines during the times people leave their homes for some reason or the other. It said the curfew imposed in the Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Puttalam, Kandy and the Jaffna Districts would continue until further notice and that travel from one district to another has been banned except for the provision of essential services.
While there is no doubt whatsoever that the imposition of the curfew is crucial to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, the government should also ensure that essential food items such as vegetables, dhal, flour, canned and fresh fish, chicken and milk powder are properly distributed to households especially with little children and to those living in by-roads and by-lanes. There are many complaints that those living in areas away from the main roads do not get to see any vans carrying essential food items or those selling fish or chicken and by the time the disappointed householders contact supermarkets to buy their provisions there is little or nothing available.
With that aside, there were many who placed orders and made payments using their credit cards to a popular retail website last week, but even several days later, they are still waiting for the delivery of the provisions they ordered in good faith while uncertainty shrouds the fate of the goods they ordered and the money they paid. This type of hoodwinking should not be carried out on Sri Lankans by Sri Lankans at turbulent times such as these. People do not have unlimited amounts of cash to be wasted on fraudulent deals carried out by unscrupulous retail service providers.
According to the Police Media Unit, the Police had arrested 7,098 people from 6.00 p.m. on March 20 to 6.00 p.m. on March 30 on charges of violating curfew regulations while thousands of vehicles had also been taken into custody. Police said curfew violators would be severely dealt and the vehicles would not be released till the pandemic was brought under control and the crisis situation in the country returns to normal.
The curfew has been imposed for the purpose of restricting or curbing the spread of the deadly virus by getting the people to remain in their homes and as a means of reducing the risk or the chances of infecting others in the case of there being carriers among those looking to buy food items or those aimlessly loitering around thinking it’s fun time. Even the ‘work from home week’ was suggested by the government with this purpose in mind. The curfew violators should realise that they are only making the work of the security forces, police and the heavily burdened healthcare workers that much more difficult and stressful.
Success in any such a venture can only be secured if all our citizens cooperate with the health authorities, the security forces and the police while the failure to do so will only end in a major disaster and a price too heavy for us Sri Lankans to pay. We paid a heavy price during the 30-year armed conflict by way of the many lives lost and many more left maimed and disabled. We cannot afford to do so again.
Although we mention this towards the end of this article, we hope the government will not forget that the care and concern for the poor, helpless and the destitute, the elderly and the disabled is its foremost responsibility and that action to mitigate their situation is worth more than mere words
Let us act responsibly and together overcome this crisis. That is our only option