‘One Law, One Nation’
Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL)’s sudden, currently effective, clamping of a 24-hour curfew, encompassing the totality of the Western Province (WP) and a few other Police divisions located outside the WP, spanning a total of 10 days and five hours and effective till 5 a.m. on Monday 9 November, has impacted the lives of more than 6.1million or over 29 per cent of the island’s population.
This happened after GoSL, seemingly without any warning, on Sunday 1 November announced the clamping of a week-long, 24-hour ‘COVID-19’ curfew, encompassing the totality of the WP as well as the Police divisions (PDs) of the Kurunegala Municipality and Kuliyapitiya, both located in the Kurunegala District of the North Western Province, and the Eheliyagoda PD in the Ratnapura District of the Sabaragamuwa Province, effective from 5 a.m. yesterday, to 5 a.m. on Monday.
Previously, the 24-hour coronavirus or quarantine curfew in the WP was imposed four days earlier, i.e., beginning from 12 midnight on 29 October and was scheduled to have had been lifted at 5 a.m. yesterday, 2 November, spanning a total of three days and five hours under lockdown. But with the extension of this curfew till 5 a.m. on Monday 9 November, that means that curfew will have been imposed uninterruptedly in the WP spanning a total of 10 days and five hours.
However, Gampaha District, one of three districts located in the WP, the other two being Colombo and Kalutara districts, has been under curfew since 10 p.m. on 21 October. Therefore, the extension of this curfew till Monday, 5 a.m. 9 November means that Gampaha will have had been under continuous, 24-hour curfew for a total of 18 days and nine hours.
Gampaha, according to the Census and Statistics Department (CSD), is the second most populous district after Colombo in the country with an estimated population of 2,391,000 as at mid 2017, which is the latest of such data.
Considering the fact that Sri Lanka had a total population of 20,970,000 in the reference period, that means that 11.4 per cent of the island’s population will have had been affected by this indefinite curfew encompassing a totality of 18 days and nine hours imposed in the Gampaha District, notwithstanding the fact that occasionally, supermarkets, pharmacies, banks and such like essential services providers have been allowed to be open for business for a few hours on some days despite this curfew.
Similarly, the Kuliyapitiya PD has been living under 24-hour curfew since 20 October. With this curfew too extended up to 5 a.m. on 9 November, that means that the Kuliyapitiya PD will have had been under continuous lockdown for a total period of 20 days and five hours up to 5 a.m. on Monday 9 November. However, the population living in the Kuliyapitiya PD was not immediately unavailable.
Kuliyapitiya is one of 29 PDs coming under the Kurunegala District (KD). KD, with an estimated as at mid 2017 population of 1,694,000 is the third largest populous district in Sri Lanka, constituting 8.1 per cent of the island’s total population.
Meanwhile, this sudden curfew imposed on Sunday has impacted 6,081,000 of the country’s population living in the WP alone, according to CSD, i.e., as per their mid-year population estimates as at 2017, equivalent to 29 per cent of the island’s population.
The populations living in the Eheliyagoda and Kurunegala Municipality PDs too were not immediately available. Eheliyagoda comes under the Ratnapura District, a district which has 17 PDs under its purview.
The estimated population of the Ratnapura District as at mid 2017 was 1,151,000 comprising 5.5 per cent of the island’s total population in the review period. Ratnapura was the seventh most populous district in the reference period. Ahead of it, population wise, in descending order were Colombo (2,419,000), Gampaha (2,391,000), Kurunegala (1,694,000), Kandy (1,452,000) and Kalutara (1,271,000) respectively.
It has been identified that the current COVID-19 virus strain, which, seemingly made its first appearance 31 days (one month) ago at Minuwangoda on 3 October, is allegedly a more severe form of a virus, than the virus first detected on a Chinese woman tourist in the beginning of this year, i.e., on 27 January.
It’s reported that this new strain is that which is affecting ‘several’ European countries. In the light of these developments, it’s important that Sri Lanka strengthens its border controls, without fear or favour, to prevent leakages, thereby making this island, truly a country with ‘one law, one nation.’