The curfew imposed to maintain social distancing or physical distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19, the latest version of the disease caused by the coronavirus family has started to bite the entire nation, irrespective of race, religion or political party the people belong to. The economy made up of large scale corporations to that of those doing odd jobs have been hard hit.
Besides, the isolation at homes and curtailment of freedom of movement is killing us slowly. Only solace is the electronic media and social media apart from networking with friends and relatives over the phone.
Yet, we have no other option. Everybody has to put up with the situation for the sake of the lives of people in the country as well as in the world. If one is not so broad-minded he or she has to endure all these difficulties for the sake of his or her family members or at least for his or her own sake. The enemy, the virus is invisible and can attack us anytime emerging from any object. We would realize that we have been attacked only when we are suffocated and sometimes after putting the lives of our kith and kin in danger. Even one’s most loved one or the trusted friend might bring death to him or her. That is the nature of the new coronavirus or COVID-19.
Even the most advanced countries have failed to find a medical remedy – a pill or a vaccine - to knock out this deadly disease. The United States, the most powerful country in the world is the country worst hit by the new coronavirus. Other powerful countries such as Britain, France, Spain, Germany and Italy are struggling to contain the spread of the outbreak. China, the second powerful country in the world is till out of breath after a do-or-die struggle against the
The two options left to protect mankind are to treat the symptoms of the virus-infected individuals until their body develops sufficient immunity, which may or may not be successful and to keep away from infected persons.
But, who are the infected persons? Nobody knows. It might be anybody who looks like others, until he or she shows symptoms. The danger is that the infected person could spread the virus to so many, even hundreds or thousands of people without showing any symptoms, as the case with the South Korea’s now famous “patient 31,” a female member of a local church called Shincheonji who is believed to have spread the virus to more than a thousand people connected to the church within a month, in a chain reaction.
Nonetheless, despite having being fed with such horrific but true stories, we, human beings are not so disciplined to keep away from others voluntarily, especially when the virus carriers and non-carriers look alike and do not look dangerous. It is here the State had to intervene and isolate us within our homes to separate us and we have to comprehend it. However, a sudden curfew will definitely create a chaotic situation as people are not prepared for it. The scramble that we witnessed last Tuesday in Colombo was natural, despite it being suicidal, in view of the danger of COVID-19 contagion among a large number of people.
No government in the world had prior knowledge or experience in contain this kind of a threat. Thus, it is natural that any mechanism that is put in place to fulfil the needs of the people during this kind of a curfew might associate with flaws. There should be an understanding between the authorities and the masses. People have to find ways to convey the flaws to the authorities while authorities in turn have to listen to the people, even their criticism to find out the holes in their mechanisms. The most important matter is the purpose of the curfew – the
The role of the media in keeping the people and the authorities informed and to prepare the country to face the threat as a united front, without creating divisions among them on the basis of race, religion or political party is paramount.