A timely piece of advice | Daily News


A timely piece of advice

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s advice to the Sri Lankan public that although the worst is behind them, vis-a-vis the Coronavirus, the pandemic was by no means eradicated and hence the need to strictly adhering to the prevailing guidelines is most welcome indeed.

The cautionary note by the President via a Twitter message is eminently justified given that there is a sudden surge once again in the pandemic in certain countries which rested on their laurels thinking they had it eliminated only to see a return with a vengeance.

Even China which reported zero cases in Wuhan, where the pandemic originated, is once again witnessing a return of the virus to their original levels resulting in more deaths.

President Rajapaksa in his Twitter message stated that while most countries are suffering from Covid-19 Sri Lanka has achieved a remarkable victory through collective efforts, but the virus is yet to be eradicated.

He warned that people’s negligence could make room for the virus to spread again. “I call upon all citizens to take stringent measures based on the health guidelines,” the President advised the public.

The President’s warning is a timely one in that all sectors, workplaces, businesses, religious functions and general activity had resumed to their original levels, with all cinemas too reopening soon. This is as it should since the country cannot be in lockdown indefinitely although certain countries have acted prematurely in lifting their restrictions at grave cost, with people throwing caution to the winds.

Here too there is the risk of the public being complacent as we all know from experience. Hence the Presidential warning at this stage, we feel, is quite appropriate since we Lankans have this almost fatal tendency to forget things in a hurry.

Even during the war days we went about wailing, weeping and beating our breasts when a bomb blast took a heavy toll of human lives only to drop the guard and get about our businesses in normal fashion until the next bomb went off.

The Coronavirus could be more deadly than any terrorist bomb we have experienced if one were to consider the colossal amount of lives lost around the world from the pandemic. Hence, it is all the more reason to be extra cautious by all concerned paying heed to the advice of the President.

Moreover with the election campaign bound to reach fever pitch in the coming days there is all likelihood of candidates and their supporters throwing caution to the winds to woo voters what with the ‘Manapey’ battle set to be fierce given the new restrictions.

Already, complaints have been lodged with the Elections Commission by certain parties, particularly the smaller ones over the prevailing restrictions pleading for more leeway. We feel that the Elections Commission should not relax the health restrictions since what is at stake is human lives.

After all, the Commission has been at great pains to prevail on the public the need for strictly adhering to the health guidelines even going to the extent of holding mock elections to educate the voters on the methods to follow on polling day.

Needless to say all these efforts will come to naught if carelessness overtakes the natural enthusiasm of candidates and their supporters to reach the voting public. Already we see large crowds at election meetings of the main parties with even leaders who should know better failing to follow the distance rule in most instances. The other day there was a protest staged in Mahiyangana over the operation of a quarry with the protesters shouting themselves hoarse in one heap, sans the regulation face masks, the police as guilty as the rest. Hopefully the President’s advice would remedy this situation keeping in the mind the inherent danger in being among big crowds without maintaining a safe distance.

Following the President’s cautionary message there ought to be strict enforcement of the regulations in all instances if it is to have any effect on the public well-being. Moreover the country cannot afford a second wave without further suffering dire economic consequences not to mention the cost in terms of lives and interrupted livelihoods.

It is time that the President’s advice is given serious thought, lest all efforts of the health officials and the Security Forces who made a signal contribution to see off the pandemic from our midst come to naught, due to the carelessness of a few.

It is also time that all precautions are put in place to avert a recurrence in this country in terms of the President’s advice. It is disregard for the guidelines put in place initially that led to the spread of the virus and the development of clusters. Thankfully all these clusters have now been detected and neutralized, with no social spread of the virus for nearly two months. It is the duty of all to ensure it stays that way.

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