Stay Safe this Avurudu!

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Apr 10 2021

Wednesday will be the first ‘Avurudu’ (Sinhala and Tamil New Year) that Sri Lanka will be celebrating, void of lockdowns, curfews and movement restrictions, since ‘Avurudu’ 2019.

But the country is still not out of the woods as the number of COVID-19 deaths keeps on rising.

Therefore, Sri Lankans will have to maintain adequate precautionary measures, which measures would lead to the ultimate demise of COVID-19.

Last ‘Avurudu’ i.e. ‘Avurudu 2020,’ Sri Lanka was on a total shutdown, lockdown and movement restriction that helped to curb the Pandemic, but at the expense of not being able to celebrate ‘Avurudu’ not just to its fullest, even partially as well. 

But today, all of those “don’ts” have been lifted, in part because Sri Lanka is a democracy, where it doesn’t believe in regimenting its people by heaping upon them a number of “dos and don’ts,” leaving that to the good sense of its peoples, unlike in totalitarian States and even in certain democracies because COVID-19 is a global killer and has no respect to borders.

Therefore, it’s the bounden duty of Sri Lankans to play their part in curbing this Pandemic, this ‘Avurudu’ and beyond by maintaining adequate social distancing, avoiding crowd gathering and congregating, complemented by wearing face-masks properly, keeping one’s distance even when travelling in public transport, visiting friends and relatives  and  attending weddings, parties and places of worship.

These precautionary measures have to be looked at in the context that there had been a surge in Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 cases after Sri Lanka reopened its economy on 11 May 2020, including deaths. Prior to 11 May 2020, i.e. from 21 March 2020 to 10 May 2020, the island went into a ‘total’ 51-day lockdown period, signified by implementing a countrywide curfew at 3 p.m. from 21 March 2020 and preceded by closing its borders four days earlier, on 17 March 2020 in order to control this Pandemic. 

That bore results,  where, in the total 17 days from 29 March 2020, the day when Sri Lanka recorded its first COVID-19 fatality, to 14 April 2020, including both of those days, the island recorded only seven COVID-19 deaths, translating to 0.41 deaths per diem,  according to the Epidemiology Unit.

But after Sri Lanka re-opened its economy on 11 May 2020 and coinciding with the fact that the country will be celebrating another ‘Avurudu’ in three days time, this time lockdown free, there, however, has been a surge in COVID-19 cases, complemented by COVID-19 deaths, indicating that people’s freedom to move about and move around, unrestricted, has, however, accelerated the spread of this Disease.

Since the first COVID-19 fatality was reported on 29 March 2020 and up to 10 a.m. on Friday (9  April 2021), the number of COVID-19 deaths has blown to 593, averaging at the rate of 1.58 per diem, in the 378 days that had passed since, including both of those days.

Nonetheless, the COVID-19 fatality rate was relatively low during the last ‘Avurudu’ period because the country was on a total lockdown then, unlike now. 

The island went into a ‘total’ 51-day lockdown from 21 March 2020 to 10 May 2020, signified by implementing a countrywide curfew at 3 p.m. from 21 March 2020 and preceded by, closing its borders four days earlier, on 17 March 2020, to combat this Pandemic. 

This lockdown, ipso facto restricted movements, where, only ‘essential’ services operated, whilst the Government, during this period, lifted curfew for only a few hours daily to allow households to buy essentials, before re-imposing it.

 Consequently, in the 43-day period, from 10 a.m. on 29 March 2020 (when the first death was recorded), to 10 a.m. on 10 May 2020, inclusive of both of those days, Sri Lanka registered only nine COVID-19 deaths, with the COVID-19 death rate recording a mere 0.21 deaths per diem in the review period. 

This favourably compared with the COVID-19 death rate of 0.41 deaths per diem recorded in the 17 days from 29 March 2020 to 14 April 2020, inclusive of both of those days. When the two periods are compared, i.e. from 29 March 2020 to 14 April 2020 and 29 March 2020 to 10 May 2020, there had been a 48.78 per cent deceleration in the daily COVID-19 death rate during the latter period.

Therefore, it cannot be but emphasised and re-mphasised that the people of this country, while celebrating ‘Avurudu’ almost to its fullest sense after last year’s lockdown, for their own good and also for the good of their families, relatives, friends and the country at large, should not only ‘stay safe,’ but also must not endanger others, because COVID-19 is far from being over.

‘Bit freedom of the wild ass’ would only result in another shutdown and lockdown, whereas responsible citizenry this ‘Avurudu’ season will assure and ensure that the ‘Avurudu 2020 COVID-19’ lockdown will be history, never to be repeated.

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM Apr 10 2021

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