A lasting lesson | Daily News


A lasting lesson

The Coronavirus pandemic, while causing monumental upheaval and loss of lives around the world, has also brought in its wake certain positives which it would be to the good of all concerned to ponder over. The strict regulations and restrictions forced down on the people due to the pandemic, were a telling revelation on how the world would have been a better place to live in had these guidelines been in existence earlier, which would even have prevented the spread of the pandemic with such devastating effect.

This reality was brought home to the Lankan public by many health experts, authorities in diverse fields and the clergy of all faiths who prevailed on the need for restarting ‘life again from Ground Zero’ so to speak – a radical shake-up in the present order of things, calling for a complete overhaul of lifestyles, behavioural patterns and practices of the community. No doubt, the lockdown enforced during the Coronavirus pandemic in this country opened the eyes of many to the new reality, after witnessing the disciplined and orderly way of daily life.

There was no general rush at shops and markets which is the ideal recipe for the contraction of many diseases, with the people queuing up in an orderly fashion in conformity with health regulations. Discipline and orderliness, albeit enforced, was the hallmark of public conduct during this period. The public were also beneficiaries, health wise, in other ways too.

We may not know how many were spared the respiratory diseases usually associated with air pollution via the high volume of vehicular traffic. It would be interesting to observe the statistics from the Motor Traffic Department on the number of lives spared due to the absence of road accidents and the police on the casualties spared from gang violence and other fatal encounters. What about the health benefits accrued to the habitual tipplers during the total lockdown with most likely to kick the habit altogether, easing the strain on the Health budget in the treatment of alcoholics. Environment-wise there was also a significant lack of pollution of our waterways with the absence of noxious effluents discharged by factories. It also gave rise to the full bloom of our fauna and a pause in the slaughter of cattle which was welcomed by the Buddhist clergy who expressed their views in this regard over television.

We carried a picture and editorially welcomed the reversion of the Galle Face Green to its pristine verdant quality and the need for reserving this landmark landscape strictly as a recreation and leisure park. There are also other playgrounds and parks that today resemble eyesores which need to be renovated and upgraded to make them centres for sports and physical activity that would check the prevalence of non-communicable diseases rampant among the younger generation.

It would be most welcome indeed if the authorities, taking advantage of the situation, would go the whole hog and clean up all polluting canals and waterways and relocate people living on canal banks en masse. For once, Colombo and other major cities were totally devoid of garbage and haphazardly strewn litter which hopefully would remain the norm once the country opens up in earnest. Here too, the discipline and orderliness that was enjoined by clergy and experts should be enforced in full measure by the authorities if the desired change is to have any meaning.

The authorities should also seize on the opportunity to go for a full cleanup of the City particularly in areas where the ingredients of disease are lurking to break out. All so-called ‘hotels’ and eateries operating cheek by jowl, particularly in the congested areas in the City, should be warned to abide by quarantine regulations in the long run or forced to close down now that the Coronavirus is deemed to have come to stay for a lengthy period.

The employees and helpers in these eateries should be subjected to strict health and sanitary regulations and made to wear gloves and masks when serving customers even after the threat has subsided. While the guidelines and precautions are more or less dinned on a regular basis into the public to avoid contracting coronavirus and the focus is on avoidance, the public, at the same time, should take into cognizance the difficult economic situation the country is faced with and contribute their might to ameliorate the situation.

A start could be made by seriously giving thought to the food production drive launched by the Government requiring the public to grow their own produce in home gardens, thereby alleviating, at least to some degree, the foreign exchange drain from the country during this difficult time. In this regard the separate unit mooted in the Army for Agriculture Development hopefully will give the lead towards this noble endeavour. It looks as if the novel Coronavirus has taught all of us many lasting lessons to face the future with more confidence.

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