A firm assurance | Daily News

A firm assurance

The firm assertion by Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe that a curfew or lockdown in the entire country was totally unnecessary in the wake of the detection of a Coronavirus cluster stemming from the Kandakadu Drug Rehabilitation Centre and its fallout in Rajanganaya in the Anuradhapura District will go a long way in allaying fears of an emergence of a second wave of the pandemic.

Dr. Jasinghe has advised against panic saying that all precautions are being taken to ensure the cluster is confined to a localized level. Only certain tracts in Rajanganaya, where an instructor from the Kandakadu Centre who had tested positive had circulated, are under lockdown.

Besides, a curfew or lockdown is the last thing the people who are just picking up their shattered lives after the Coronavirus blow would want. Things have almost returned to normal with businesses and workplaces opened albeit not to their full capacity. Importantly, schools which were shut down for nearly four months are about to reopen in stages.

But the most stunning blow in the event of another lockdown will no doubt be to the country’s economy that is slowly recovering from the Coronavirus. Even the Opposition has acknowledged that another prolonged lockdown would kill the economy. Hence, this is hardly the time for pressing panic buttons and rolling back all the positive signs of the economy.

As for the General Election, another lockdown is bound to result in another postponement. Besides, all the hard work put in by the Elections Commission to hold mock elections will be brought to naught not to mention the infrastructure and logistical arrangements made to hold the poll in conformity with the health guidelines. All these will be money down the drain in the event of another lockdown with the election itself slated to cost a whopping Rs. 10 billion this time around.

But here too there is hardly cause for panic. It was only the other day that Singapore, among the worst affected countries, held its General Elections without much ado. Other countries in the West which were under siege by the virus too have reopened for business, some partially, while the pandemic was still active in these countries. No nation can remain in perennial lockdown browbeaten by a virus. Apparently they have been guided by the motto Life Must Move On.

We too should follow suit and move on subject of course to the limits imposed, if the country is not to plunge into economic chaos. We cannot let a virus dictate to us on what course the country must traverse nor embrace a fate imposed on us by a deadly pandemic. To do so would mean surrender to an unseen force.

Of course, this is not to throw caution to the winds and adopt the attitude of Que Sera Sera (Whatever Must Be Must Be). It was only on Tuesday that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa enjoined the public to guard against complacency and abide by the health guidelines pledging to protect them from all the risks inherent in the recurrence of COVID-19 from time to time in this country. He also asked all heads of state and private institutions to ensure that the guidelines are followed to the letter in their workplaces. The President is no doubt mindful of the damage that could be caused by a full blown reappearance of the Coronavirus in this country and is clearly not taking any chances.

Hence, while not succumbing outright to the threat posed by COVID-19, utmost care should be taken to spot the lurking danger and guard against the spectre of the worst pandemic to hit the world in living memory.


A welcome relief


Electricity consumers, no doubt, would heave a huge sigh of relief by the decision taken by Power and Energy Minister Mahinda Amaraweera to grant them relief with their electricity bill following public complaints that the promised concessions to tide over the Coronavirus setback were observed in the breach and that instead the consumers were receiving bills for astronomical sums.

Now the consumers can pay the same amount billed to them for February (prior to the onset of Covid-19) disregarding the amounts in all subsequent bills. Certainly, the CEB stands to lose with three full months of lockdown and people confined to their homes there, no doubt, would have been a very high rate of electricity consumption in homes that may dwarf the February bill. But in mitigation it could be said that people were finding it difficult to exist during this period due to lack of income due to the lockdown. On the other hand, the CEB managed to conserve a high capacity of electricity due to the closure of offices, factories and other workplaces during this period offsetting the losses to some extent.

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