Lessons learnt from case of Mt Lavinia gem businessman
By Ru Kariyawasam
The irresponsible behaviour of some COVID-19 infected persons is a severe problem. At a time when the media and the officials are relentlessly making people aware of the spread of the pandemic, the actions of some people, who have been exposed to COVID-19 infected persons, going into hiding and spreading the virus to others, must be considered a crime.
The seventh victim who died of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka can be considered one such person. He was a gem merchant who resided in Mount Lavinia. He contracted coronavirus and hid in society spreading the disease to the others. As a result, many others were also admitted to hospitals. The deceased man either deliberately concealed the fact that he had been infected or probably infected and sought medical assistance from a private hospital and a later Government hospital. His wife also concealed facts to the medical authorities.
Subsequently, for the first time in history, Sri Lanka sued this family under the Quarantine Act.
The man in the family was the 11th COVID-19 case in Sri Lanka and died due to complications in the evening of 8 April, as the seventh victim of the deadly disease. He might have been the fourth COVID-19 case in the country and had the chance to survive if he sought timely medical care instead of hiding the facts and playing hide and seek with the health and defence authorities.
Even President Gotabaya Rajapaksa highlighted the irresponsible behaviour of this businessman at a high-level discussion on coronavirus.
Director General of Health Services Dr. Anil Jasinghe said that the patient was ultimately detected with the assistance of the State Intelligence. He had the symptoms of COVID-19 after a tour of Germany and Austria.
Another gem merchant, who travelled with him, also had the symptoms and admitted himself to the IDH on 12 March. He was tested positive for the coronavirus. The patient revealed information about the deceased gem merchant to the health and defence authorities. Even after this, the man did not produce himself before health authorities.
Meanwhile, the businessman met a private doctor in Mount Lavinia, and the doctor also advised him to get admitted to a hospital. Instead, he visited the Central Chest Clinic and then went to a private hospital to give specimens for testing. They informed that three days were necessary for the test. Meanwhile, the health authorities were continuously trying to contact him, and his wife said that he was not at home. Later, she too avoided the telephone calls and the officials who visited their house.
The businessman stayed at home and was later admitted to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital in Kalubowila, a few days later, in a critical condition. He was immediately transferred to IDH in an ambulance and tested positive for COVID-19 on 15 March.
DIG AjithRohana stated that the family would be sued for deliberately hiding the fact that the patient could be positive for COVID-19 and for spreading the virus.
The wife and daughter of the gem businessman contracted coronavirus from him and were admitted to the IDH. Seventy-one persons who associated with them were sent for self-quarantine. Fifty of them were identified from the Ratmalana and Orugodawatta areas, and they were sent to Punani Quarantine Centre on 5 March.
The gem merchant's 62-year-old mother and 15-year-old son also contracted the coronavirus from him. Sixty-seven families who associated with them were sent for quarantine in Diyatalawa.
People must learn a lesson from this story. They must strictly follow the guidelines of the Government and the health authorities.
Do not seek private medical assistance when you have symptoms that can be suspected as COVID-19. Call 1390 for assistance. They will examine you and direct you to the hospital safely if necessary.
Always remember that it is your responsibility as a citizen of this country to act wisely.