The current lock-down – not only here but affecting two billion people around the world – should make it clear to everyone how serious COVID-19 is. What many still do not appreciate is that closing our ports and even a one month lockdown will not make the problem go away.
Let me be clear first about the good news – we appear on track to control the current surge in cases. So far almost all cases are linked to Sri Lankans returning from foreign travel, and there is little transmission between people in Sri Lanka.
When we get through this lockdown, life will not return to normal for at least the next 12 months. Our political leaders need to explain this, to prepare everyone for a long slog. To adapt the words of Winston Churchill at a similar moment: Defeating the current surge would not be the end. It would not even be the beginning of the end. But it might be, perhaps, the end of the beginning. In the absence of any effort to trust the public with what the long term strategy is, I provide an expert assessment of prospects. Continue reading
பணிநிறுத்தம் (தேசிய ஊரடங்கு உத்தரவு, வீட்டிலிருந்து வேலை செய்தல், பள்ளி மூடல்) மற்றும் வெளிநாட்டு வருகையாளர்களின் தொடர்புகளை MOH தேடுதல் ஆகியவை நோயின் தற்போதைய வெடிப்பைக் கட்டுப்படுத்துவதில் உதவும். மேலும் பத்து நாட்களுக்குள் புதிய நோய்தொற்றுகளை பூஜ்ஜியத்திற்குக் கொண்டு வரக்கூடும். சமீபத்திய தரவுகளில் அது நடப்பதற்கான அறிகுறிகள் உள்ளன.
வைரஸின் பரவலைத் தடுக்க MOH-இன் மூலோபாயம் செயல்படும், ஆனால் அது போதுமானதும் இல்லை அதைத் தக்கவைக்கவும் முடியாது. தற்போது பொருளாதாரம் இயங்க முடியா நிலை, வேலையின்மை அதிகரிக்கும், வணிகங்கள் நொடித்துவிடும், வாழ்க்கைத் தரம் வீழ்ச்சியடையும், அரசாங்கத்திற்கு வருவாய் இராது. அன்றாட வாழ்க்கையை மீண்டும் துவங்கவும் பொருளாதாரம் முன்னேறவும் வணிகங்களையும் பள்ளிகளையும் திறக்க நாம் அனுமதிக்க வேண்டும்.
අගුලු දැමීම (ජාතික ඇඳිරි නීතිය, නිවසේ සිට වැඩ කිරීම, පාසැල් වසා දැමීම) සහ විදේශයන්හි සිට පැමිණෙන්නන් ඇසුරු කල අය සක්රියව සොයා යෑම වර්තමාන රෝග ව්යාප්තිය පාලනය කිරීමට සාර්ථක විය හැකි අතර දින 10 ක් ඇතුලත නව ආසාදිතයින් බිංදුව දක්වා ගෙන ඒමට හැකි වනු ඇත.නවතම දත්තවල එය සිදුවන බවට ලකුණු තිබේ.
වෛරසය ව්යාප්ත වීම නැවැත්වීමට, සෞඛ්ය අමාත්යාංශයේ උපාය මාර්ග වලට හැකි වනු ඇත. නමුත්, එය ප්රමාණවත් නොවන අතර දිගටම දරාගත නොහැකි විය හැකිය. ආර්ථිකය ඇණ හිට ඇත, විරැකියාව ඉහළ යනු ඇත, ව්යාපාර බංකොලොත් වනු ඇත, ජීවන තත්වයන් පහත වැටෙනු අතර රජයට ආදායම නැතිව යනු ඇත. සාමාන්ය ජීවිතය නැවත ආරම්භ කිරීමට සහ ආර්ථිකය ඉදිරියට ගෙන යාමට ව්යාපාර සහ පාසල් නැවත විවෘත කිරීමට අප ඉඩ සලසා දිය යුතුය. Continue reading
The lockdown (national curfews, work at home, school closures) plus MOH actively tracing contacts of foreign arrivals should work in controlling the current outbreak and could bring new cases down to zero within ten days. There are signs of that happening in the latest data.
MOH’s strategy will work in stopping the spread of the virus, but it is not sufficient and it cannot be sustained. The economy is at a standstill, unemployment will rise, businesses will go bankrupt, living standards will fall, and the government has no revenue. We need to allow businesses and schools to re-open to restart normal life and to get the economy going. Continue reading
Our graphical vizualisation of the Epidemiology Unit’s data on Covid-19 cases in Sri Lanka attracted attention in India, and I was interviewed by The Hindu, whose article appears here. Continue reading
Sri Lanka has still to start releasing daily details of its Covid-19 cases and the findings of the critically important contact tracing effort, as does Singapore and Hong Kong. See here, here and here for how Singapore’s health ministry keeps Singaporeans informed. This is unfortunate as doing so would help build public confidence and understanding of the difficult measures that are needed, as well as help to combat rumour and fake news. Doubly unfortunate, because greater transparency would probably reflect well on the efforts of the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health.
On the positive side, the Health Promotion Bureau has been innovative in its decision to publish a regularly updated data feed on overall numbers, and in the past few days the Epidemiology Unit has released online details of cases to date. Based on that initial release, which I really hope is updated daily, our team at IHP – Nilmini Wijemunige, Yasodhara Kapuge, Chathurani Sigera and Nishani Gunawardana– generated the graphic below summarising what we know about the first 78 cases (as of 22 March). Continue reading
As anticipated, the current surge in cases has pushed the tally of total confirmed cases of COVID-19 to 100, as reported by the Epidemiology Unit, MOH. It is likely that numbers will continue increasing for the next week at least, but it’s a positive sign that the number of new cases has dropped on some days and the trend does not show the explosive rate of increase seen in most other countries.