Impasse in COVID War
China, the country or origin of the deadly COVID-19 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. Sri Lanka, since 10 p.m. on 20 August, to 4 a.m. on 21 September, a total of 31 days and four hours, has imposed travel restrictions to curb or eradicate this virus. As at 20 August, Sri Lanka suffered 198 COVID deaths on that day alone, according to data furnished by news.lk, the Government’s official news website and Health Promotion Bureau (HPB) a Health Ministry adjunct.
Further by 20 August, Sri Lanka had suffered a total of 7,183 COVID deaths; while on that day alone Sri Lanka enjoyed a total of 2,580 recoveries, but, on the negative side, 3,839 new cases as well. Therefore, on a net basis, Sri Lanka suffered 1,259 new COVID cases on 20 August.
Though the number of active cases as at 20 August was not immediately available from these two websites, however, according to the Epidemiology Unit, a Government adjunct, the total number of active cases as at 10 a.m. on 20 August was 50,373. Meanwhile, according to the interpretation of latest, news.lk/HPB data, the total number of COVID deaths reported as at 13 September had increased to 11,567, while the number of fatalities reported on that day alone was 136. On a conservative basis, on reporting the date in question, because news.lk’s reporting day is generally a day behind HPB’s reporting day, though at times their COVID-19 data superimpose on both of those days in question, therefore giving the benefit of the doubt to news.lk, the interpretation of such official data showed that there were a total of 63,741 active cases as at 13 September.
In related developments, according to news.lk, the total number of new cases detected on 14 September alone was 2,475, while the number of recoveries recorded on that day was 1,354; resulting in a number of new cases recorded on that day on a net basis being 1,121.
While the number of daily active cases, 13 September over 20 August has ‘accelerated’ by 26.54 per cent (13,368) to 63,741 new cases; the number of new daily cases detected, 14 September over 20 August, vis-à-vis active daily cases as a whole, ‘decelerated’ by 10.96 per cent (138) to 1,121.
Going by seemingly Beijing’s reaction to COVID, China apparently believes in reopening those areas which it has hitherto closed, due to its belief that such places which are susceptible to COVID, those so called ‘demarcated COVID infection zones, should at least show a deceleration in daily active cases as a whole and a contraction in net new cases detected over a comparative period, to the present.
If in the event Sri Lanka is going to take China’s seeming approach as the yardstick in considering the reopening of the economy, post 4 a.m. on 21 September, when the present travel restrictions period ends, which is only four days and four hours away, the island will then have to first consider whether daily active cases are decelerating and also whether daily net new cases are in negative terrain, at least by then? But with the number of daily active cases only increasing by 26.54 per cent to 63,741 and daily cases merely decreasing to yet remain in positive terrain with a figure of 1,121 in the review period, ie, with both of these indicators far from decelerating and turning negative respectively at least by 13 September on a conservative basis, ie seven days and four hours before current travel restrictions come to an end and 24 days since it began, going by the present trend, Sri Lanka cannot think of removing travel restrictions, but on the contrary to consider to at least extend it by another six days to 4 a.m. on Monday, 27 September.
In the interim, the State will be duty bound to look after those impacted the most, primarily economically as well as others who are both physically and mentally challenged by such extended travel restrictions.