COVID Terror Continues
COVID terror is too serious a business to be left in the hands of Generals. The total death toll caused by COVID-19 terror was at 12,125 by Saturday (18) and moved a step closer to the unenviable position of being the fourth highest cause of terror deaths in the not too distant future post independence, where currently this record of 13,000 deaths is being held by the ‘April 1971 JVP Insurgency,’ according to latest official figures available at the time of writing. The top three terror deaths, post independence, were caused by the LTTE terror which snuffed 250,000 lives; ‘29 July 1987 JVP terror’ which took 60,000 lives and the 26 December 2004 tsunami terror which took 40,000 lives.
Saturday was also the 29th consecutive day that the current travel restrictions have been implemented by the authorities to control the COVID-19 Pandemic with these restrictions to be reviewed on 1 October, ie in another 13 days’ time from Saturday. The present travel restrictions came into effect at 10 p.m. on 20 August. When looking at COVID-19 figures as at Saturday, ie even after 29 days since the present travel restrictions have been imposed, it shows that not only the war on COVID-19 is far from being over, that the scales of victory is also still tilted in favour of COVID-19 terror.
As at Saturday official data showed that there were 60,328 active COVID-19 cases on a net basis while the number of active cases on a net basis detected on that day only was 731. The corresponding numbers on 20 August were 50,373 and 1,259 respectively. It may therefore be seen that in the 29-day period from 20 August to Saturday 18 September, the number of active cases as a whole has accelerated by 19.76 per cent (9,955) to 60,328; while the number of daily active cases detected has decelerated by 41.94 per cent (528) to 731.
If Sri Lanka is to consider lifting travel restrictions, there should at least be a deceleration in the number of active cases reported, coupled with daily net recoveries also being reported, deceleration in daily new cases being registered is not enough to reconsider reopening the economy. Sri Lanka’s first COVID-19 case was reported on 27 January 2020 and its first death two months later on 29 March 2020. Since the detection of the first case, the authorities have subjected Sri Lanka to a multiple number of lockdowns/travel restrictions beginning from March 2020 in a vain bid to control this pandemic, if not to completely eradicate it.
The last of such travel restrictions, underlined by a ban on public transport such as that which exists currently, was imposed from 25 May to 4 a.m. on 5 July. Consequently in the 10-day period from 3 July 2021 to 12 July 2021, Sri Lanka, on a daily basis registered net recoveries with 30 being recorded on 3 July, 661 on 4 July, 52 (5 July), 848 (6 July), 538 (7 July), 1,453 ( 8 July), 181 ( 9 July), 267 (10 July), 50 (11 July) and 297 (12 July), before this trend was reversed the following day 13 July, with the country once more recording net new cases on a daily basis, a trend which has been continuing at least up to Saturday 18 September according to available data and which also propelled the latest travel restrictions.
China, the country of origin of the deadly COVID19 virus, is currently advocating economically hurtful lockdowns in those areas where there is a resurgence of the virus on the basis of zero tolerance in treating this Pandemic. Should Sri Lanka also take that path in treating the pandemic, where, only when there are no COVID cases reported; should it consider reopening the economy? Ideally yes, but when considering the economic scars that such lockdowns/travel restrictions cause, particularly on the vulnerable and the poor, there need to be a reflection as to whether such restrictions should continue before zero COVID cases are reported on a daily basis.
Authorities, elsewhere, other than in China, led by medical specialists, have taken up the position that one must learn to live with the pandemic. Considering the evolving situation, that may be the only choice, replete with proper precautions in order not to allow it to go out of control.
The authorities by being too hasty made mistakes at least twice, the first by reopening borders to at least the Ukrainians and the Russians in September/October 2020 that caused the second wave, to the Indians in April 2021 that caused the third wave and the lifting of restrictions led by the reopening of the public transport sector on 5 July that has caused the present fourth wave. Therefore, all the pros and cons, with the pandemic ipso facto taking centre stage, will have to be first looked at, before the authorities, led by the medical sector, decide on their next course of action, post 1 October. That’s the most prudent step to take.