Covid on the Rise

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The numbers of current Covid-19-related deaths and new cases reported are almost reminiscent of the period that existed when Sri Lanka last went into a lockdown four months ago, i.e., for a period spanning 32 days from 20 August 2021 to 21 September 2021, to arrest the spread of this disease.

According to latest available data from the Heath Ministry’s Epidemiology Unit, the number of Covid cases in the 24 hours ended at 10 a.m. on Friday (11) was 1,297 and 31 deaths. On the previous day, Thursday, these numbers were 1,263 and 36 respectively. 

Covid cases for the first time in the year passed the daily 1,000 mark on 31 January and fatalities the 30 mark on Wednesday (35). Meanwhile, it hit the daily ‘20’ deaths mark for the first time for the year also on 31 January (20 deaths), whilst recording the lowest daily Covid case count for the year on 2 January (351) and the lowest daily death count (seven) on three separate days, 10, 16 and 18 January. 

On the very first day of the last lockdown, i.e., on 25 August 2021, the number of new Covid cases reported was 4,446 and the number of deaths, 190. On the last day of that lockdown period, i.e., on 21 September 2021, those numbers had whittled down to 1,518 and 93 respectively, higher than the current numbers, but considering current rising numbers, it’s not something to be ignored.

Thus far for the year, the lowest case count of 351 was reported on 2 January, before reaching its highest thus far, 1,297 on Friday, more than a three-fold increase within the space of a mere 40 days, while deaths which were a low of only seven on 18 January, has jumped by more than four-fold to 31 in little over three weeks 

(24 days) to Friday, an indication of not only how rapidly COVID can spread, but also in its wake, creating an exponential number of deaths in a short space of time. 

At present, there are no lockdowns. The last lockdown (20 August – 21 September 2021), resulted in the economy contracting in that quarter, i.e., the third quarter of 2021, by 1.50 per cent year on year, data showed. So, as a tradeoff, the Government has made wearing face masks mandatory, but a large numbers of tourists are found to be walking around Colombo ‘unmasked’ and unchecked.

This may be because Sri Lanka is starved for US dollars, thereby making this mandated requirement applicable only to locals for all practical purposes. The breach of this law carries a Rs 10,000 fine or a six months imprisonment. 

This open case of ‘apartheid’, overtly sanctioned by the Government, makes mockery of the recently appointed ‘One Country, One Law’ Presidential Task Force headed by Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera, yet another case of a waste of taxpayers’ money.

The issue at hand is for the people and the Government to take proactive steps to mitigate the spread of this deadly disease. Quarantining, isolationism and keeping the required social distancing in public may be impracticable because it doesn’t make economic sense.

The economy contracted by a record 3.6 per cent in 2020, the first year when this scourge enveloped the globe, including Sri Lanka, while growing at 4.4 per cent in the first nine months of last year from a low base, according to latest official data.

It’s also reported that the Chinese Covid vaccines, which Sri Lanka imported in large quantities to counter this pandemic, is inferior in quality compared to the Western or vaccines manufactured under Western licence by certain developing countries like India, which has a strong pharmaceutical background.

 There are also reports to say that Sri Lanka needs to up its people’s immune system by administering the booster vaccine manufactured by the USA, after already obtaining the first two doses, i.e., largely the Chinese vaccines. 

Encouraging the masses, who have first got both of those vaccines to get the booster (the third) as well, while vaccinating the unvaccinated with the Western or vaccines manufactured under licence from the West, by countries like India, is the way forward to counter Covid.