Irony at its best -the Minister of Health, one of the chief proponents of the locally developed ‘COVID syrup’ better known as the ‘peniya’, has tested positive for the Coronavirus. The Minister publicly consumed the syrup produced by a person who claimed to have access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits.
The producer of the ‘wonder drug’ claimed the decoction provided life-long protection from the virus. Most embarrassingly for us Lankans, our Minister of Health is not the only Minister of government to fall for the tall claims of the man who claimed to be divinely inspired.
The doctors of the country on many occasions warned against the spurious claims of protection offered by the ‘wonder drug’. They warned it was a means of taking away from the seriousness of the medical problem our country and the entire world was facing. Sadly, some of our politicians choose to spread the false claims of charlatans over the advice of medical professionals.
Perhaps they do it in the hope it will further their political careers, by giving the people a false sense of hope without taking necessary steps to combat the virus. As it turned out literally thousands of people broke all known health guidelines to get stocks of the miracle cure.
Today, at the time of writing this, over 99 million persons worldwide have contracted the coronavirus or Covid-19 and over two million have succumbed to the disease, which early last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) described last year as a pandemic.
In the US, the worst-affected country worldwide, the then President Donald Trump ignored and belittled the effects of the virus, fearing a lockdown and allied actions needed to combat the spread of the virus, would lead to a downturn in the US economy. Today around 25,566,789 persons in the US have contracted the disease and 427,635 have succumbed to the deadly illness.
In our own country, 56,863 persons have contracted the virus and 278 have died of the disease so far. Sri Lanka had during the first wave of the virus, successfully controlled the spread of the same. However, in the aftermath of a loosening of regulations to hold elections, the numbers spiked.
Particular politicians have been shamelessly promoting spurious cures for combatting the virus in our country, as means to hiding their own failure to control its spread. During this month alone, the numbers of persons catching the virus has been growing uncontrobably on a daily basis. For instance on January 1, 2021 the number contracting the disease was 557. But by January 23, the numbers contracting the virus on a daily basis had risen to a staggering 784 cases per day.
We know –given the downturn in the economy since the coronavirus struck, our country does not have sufficient resources to combat the fallout on its own. We are in need of help from out international partners as well as our own people if we are to successfully control the spread of the virus.
For this to happen, the government needs to take the people into its confidence. Promoting tall tales and false cures will end up with more persons falling victim to the virus and larger numbers dying. It is time to call a halt to the hocus-pocus, inform the general public of the reality of the health situation and get their support to bring the virus under control.
Fortunately, science has made it possible to produce a vaccine which can effectively combat the virus. According to the ‘National Geographic, the World Health Organization is reportedly close to granting emergency use approval to the Moderna, AstraZeneca-Oxford, Sinopharm, and Sinovac vaccines. It has already approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Our giant neighbor India –the largest producer of vaccines in the world, has promised to send us around 600,000 doses of vaccine to Sri Lanka. The President’s office has confirmed that a consignment of the Indian COVID-19 vaccine will be brought to the country on Wednesday 27.
According to reports, China too has promised to send a limited quantity of vaccines to help this country in its hour of need. The United Nations under its COVAX programme too will play a major role in bringing the vaccines to the country.
But first, our leaders need to get their own act together and not try to fool the people. The people are not fools.