Need to maintain the 24 Hour, island-wide Curfew for some more time; caring for the curfew affected population is equally important
Posted on March 28th, 2020

Chanaka Bandarage

The government should be commended for imposing a 24 hour, island-wide curfew. It was a brave decision. 

Sri Lanka is possibly the first country in the world to impose a 24 hour, island-wide curfew.

We are also one of the first countries in the world to shut down schools.

Many countries have followed our successful examples.

Avoidance of close contact between peoples is the best way to stop the spreading of the deadly virus. In 3rd world countries, where people are less educated/disciplined, a blanket nation-wide (24 hour) curfew is the best way to achieve this.

Sri Lanka did another thing right, which is closing down its national airports and sea entries. This means even Sri Lankan nationals living overseas are prevented from entering the country. This is another bold step that the government undertook, as other countries have allowed their citizens to enter through the borders subject to strict conditions.

But, Sri Lanka did this (closing the airports) only after learning a bitter lesson. Previously it allowed all its citizens to return to Sri Lanka with the condition that they undergo a mandatory 14 day quarantine period. Unscrupulous Sri Lankans who are suspected of having Corona, returned to the country (especially from Italy and Chennai) and botched the mandatory quarantine regime. Some fled and hid in various parts of the country.

This was a major drawback in our fight against Corona.

Some of them were later diagnosed with having Corona.

Thus, thanks to them, we inherited Corona. 

Our numbers are now growing steadily. As of 9 pm on 28 March 2020, we  have 113 Corona cases in the country, with 1 dead. We have reached this number within 15 days.  It is remarkable that we have done better than Spain and USA who recorded only 84 and 75 cases respectively during their first 15 days.

In Sri Lanka we have no/very few Corona testings being done.  Advanced economies like US, UK and Australia test many thousands of people daily. 

Thus, our actual number of Corona patients could be much higher than the statistics at hand.

There is no doubt that in the coming weeks Sri Lanka’s Corona  numbers, including fatalities, will significantly increase. Though the writer hopes he is wrong, it is impossible to think otherwise.

We should request friendly governments to supply us with relevant equipment, so that we could better face with the impending calamity. The country is desperately in need of face masks, surgical glows/gowns/equipment, various medicines, respirators, ventilators etc to fight the war against this ‘invisible enemy’. We must have many new intensive care beds.

It is important that the government formally establishes a national ‘Corona Care Fund’, so that those who can afford both locally and internationally could contribute. Only people well accepted in the community as honest, with high integrity, must be appointed as Trustees of the Fund to manage it.

The government is stressing the people to stay at home and maintain a minimum of a meter distance between them.  The curfew is strictly enforced. These are all very positive things. In print/electronic media, there is ongoing education programs on how to face the Corona epidemic.

Again, the government must be commended for these.

However, the government must realise that while satisfactorily fighting the deadly disease, it must do everything possible to look after the essential needs of the people. The government’s record in looking after/caring for them thus far, especially the most disadvantaged members of our community, is  far from satisfactory.

The majority of the people in the country are poor and many have no money to buy food. Many are subsistent workers and they have lost their jobs. So, even if the shops are open, they may not have money to buy food/provisions. There are reports that people in some areas are starving due to lack of food. The writer is unaware of the authenticity of these stories but believes that the situation is serious. The government must not be complacent on this most important subject.

If people are starving/do not have money to buy food/provisions, these could easily lead to other problems like civil unrest. This is also a reason why the government must take urgent action now (prevention is better than cure).

The irony is that there are people with vested interests who would love to see people disobeying curfews and embarking on social unrest activities. Some people want nothing else but disruption/chaos.

Again, it is extremely important that the government pays top priority to ensure that people will not go hungry and that they are all fed/looked after. The government along with humanitarian orgnisations (temples, churches, various charities) should embark on the quick action of feeding the curfew affected people, importantly the country’s poor. Free food distribution to affected families (poverty stricken) is a must and this should not be further delayed. Those who like to conduct Wesak type food stalls (dansals) should be encouraged to do so.

Those who have money, should be allowed to go out and do their shopping. For this supermarkets, other essential shops especially pharmacies (including private) should be allowed to be kept open daily.  To avoid people misusing this ‘freedom’, a strictly enforced ‘permit system’ should be introduced, like in Wuhan.

This means the government gradually moving away from the current strict curfew regime to a highly control lockdown regime.

Corona has come to stay with us for some time. Whether we like it or not, it does not seem to disappear soon. Australia has set out a plan to ‘live with Corona’ for the next   6 months.

The biggest obstacle is that we will not have a vaccine during the course of this year (2020).

It is time that we develop both short and long term plans/strategies to deal with Corona. People should be able to work; otherwise it will be the collapse of the economy, financial systems etc. The effects of such calamities will be too hard to fathom. This is why US, UK and Australia always talk about saving their economies.

Once people resume work, the police/military must monitor these activities very carefully. Those who disobey the very strict lockdown rules must be subjected to very heavy fines/imprisonment.

Again, we must learn to live with Corona.

We must think wisely and become prepared to face any future situation.

During future lockdowns, we must target that at least 70% – 80% of the people would remain indoors.

Social isolation and social distancing (minimum of 2 meters) are so important, BASICALLY THEY DETERMINE OUR FUTURE EXISTENCE (whether we would live or die). This message must be conveyed to the masses more comprehensively, unfortunately many in our country do not still understand.

We can defeat Corona, as long as if we have clever governments and clever people.

4 Responses to “Need to maintain the 24 Hour, island-wide Curfew for some more time; caring for the curfew affected population is equally important”

  1. aloy Says:

    The unfortunate thing is that the GMOA guys who seem to be dictating terms to GOSL has failed to realized that our country is quite different to the western countries that they see and venerate in their books. We have not heard of any plague in our country except malaria which perhaps depleted the population in the east several centuries ago. In our country the the environment (which has not yet been completely destroyed) protect the inhabitants from Corona type of diseases while in European countries the plagues are supported to become more powerful by mutation. So far all cases are those who came from Italy and those who had close contacts and got heavy doses of the virus.
    However there seem to be another dimension to this. It appears some minorities want to take this as a biological weapon to create havoc. I am sure the security forces will take care of such attempts. It is always the people who asses a situation correctly and take advantage of the opportunity that prevails at the end.

  2. Chanaka B Says:

    Regardless of political opinion, it is the duty of every citizen to render full support to the Government’ anti-Corono work. Praise must be given where it is due; at the same time if we see shortcomings in the Government’s work (it has undertaken a massive task), we must show them. That is the duty of the patriot.

    In western countries Corona numbers and fatalities have doubled or trebled within a matter of few days. Let’s hope that that will not happen in Sri Lanka. But, unfortunately our numbers are also rising. The only consolation we have is that we are a high temperature country, thus Corona may not survive as good in colder countries. But, this is not yet scientifically proven (Corona is less effective in hot weathers).

    Your statement “some minorities want to take this as a biological weapon to create havoc”; sorry I do not agree with you. True there have been acts of unscrupulous people (including a mosque where 7o people had allegedly jointly prayed last Friday), I think it was their foolishness. No one wants to become Corono infected deliberately.

    Yes, the security services are doing a marvelous job, there’s simply no words to thank them.

    “It is always the people who asses a situation correctly and take advantage of the opportunity that prevails at the end” – may be your right. I have stressed in the article that people should be correctly educated and motivated.

  3. Caesar Says:

    This is a stupid decision, Curfew cannot fight virus (Nature)!

    Whatever you do, the nature takes it’s toll anyway.

    Further detailed comment will be posted later.

  4. Chanaka B Says:

    Imposition of the curfew is the best thing that the country did (in current climate). Otherwise, the Corona infected and fatality numbers would have grown exponentially.

    Since we are doing very limited testings; social isolation is the best and basically the only remedy we have. And, that can be best achieved by the curfew.

    I must say we have done very welll.

    Cure by nature; you may be referring to natural healing by our own immunity system. Yes fully agree. The young have a stronger/powerful immune system, that’s why they get early discharched. The case fatality rate among older people is very high (about 10% +in Italy) – their immunity systems are too weak to fight the virus.

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