While the Health Ministry’s Epidemiology Unit has been claiming that there is no community spread of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka, citing World Health Organization’s criteria, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) citing the same WHO’s analysis, warns that the country has exceeded the risk level of COVID-19 positive patients rate.
The Daily Mirror yesterday quoted Editor of the GMOA, Dr. Haritha Aluthge as saying that the COVID-19 positive rate has got past the 5.5 margin. The positive rate was at level 3.0 a month before. Then the rate increased to level 4. Now it has got past level 5 and has reached 5.5; which is higher in risk, he had said.
Considering the current pandemic situation which the country faces at present, the GMOA also warned that the situation could turn serious by the middle of next month. While pointing out the fact that the number of COVID-19 patients reported from other provinces on daily basis has increased by about 35%, despite a sharp decline in positive cases in the Western Province, the GMOA says the likelihood of emergence of increased number of COVID-19 positive cases is high from many districts by mid-February. Despite the country being accustomed with relatively high statistics on infected persons and deaths, the upward trend in overall number of COVID-19 patients in the country is startling. In early October - when the sudden second wave of coronavirus spread was detected the daily rise in patients was in double digits and on most days it was in single digit. It went up to a point between 600 and 700 and dropped to around 400 before it rose to the present range between 750 and 850.
The authorities’ attitude towards the people infected with coronavirus and those who had associated with them recently seems to have correspondingly changed. There was a time before October when a person tested positive for coronavirus he was whisked away to a hospital while those who associated with him were also removed to a government run quarantine centre. People in those quarantine centres like a ritual praised the government and the army who ran those centres for the excellent way they were treated by the authorities of those centres. However, the pressure on the health sector was such that pathetic stories like infected people having lived for days in three wheelers until they were taken to hospitals were reported recently. Besides, even the first contact persons of COVID-19 patients are now being directed to self-quarantine in their homes. It is against this backdrop that we have to consider the dreadful warnings by the GMOA.
We have to expect the spread of the new British strain of coronavirus anytime in the country. Health experts are of the opinion that the new strain is more contagious and more deadly. We are pointing out these warning signs as a preface to another issue that we have to look into. That is the contempt or hate hurled on social mediaupon some of the high profile persons, such as politicians who had recently contracted the deadly virus. Politics has poisoned the minds of the masses in such an extent that some people have stooped to the level of cursing virus contracted politicians to death. If we fall that law to pray for the death of others who do not accept our line of thinking, that is nothing but Zahranism, the ideology of the mastermind of the barbaric Easter Sunday terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile, State Minister Sudarshani Fernandopulle has condemned those who had shared social media posts insulting and humiliating COVID-19 infected Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi. While condemning the political sadism involved in these posts, we also have to accept the fact that the Health Minister herself had given ammunition to her adversaries for both fair criticism as well as sadistic remarks. She along with three others including Cabinet spokesman Minister Udaya Gammanpila had in November last year dropped pots containing what is said to be incanted water into rivers, in a move to save the country from COVID-19. And also she was pictured drinking the controversial “Dhammika peniya” the producer of which had claimed that his syrup was a lifelong protector against the deadly virus infection.
One cannot blame people for having various beliefs, so long as they act personally in keeping with those beliefs. But if they give an official or political colouring to their beliefs, they have to anticipate the inevitable repercussions as well. However, we can accept only fair criticism and not sadism or Shamanism, especially in the light of the warnings by the GMOA.