Irresponsible actions lead to COVID spread | Daily News

Irresponsible actions lead to COVID spread

Two main factors were stressed by the Sri Lankan health authorities last week but it seems the Sri Lankan public is still totally ignoring those crucial facts connected to controlling COVID-19. The two crucial facts are not treating the vaccine as a permit or a license to ignore all or some health guidelines introduced by the Government and health authorities to control COVID-19 and extending the fullest cooperation by the public to all relevant authorities to control the pandemic.

Recently health authorities stressed that despite being vaccinated, the transmission of the COVID-19 virus would not halt and people should strictly practice all health guidelines. They stated that there is a possibility that a vaccinated person could contract the virus again but the vaccine would help develop the antibodies to fight the virus within.

Health guidelines

Therefore they urged people to strictly adhere to all the health guidelines even after being vaccinated and urged everyone to get vaccinated once the vaccines are available. Meanwhile some interested parties are purposely spreading fabricated scary information in connection with side effects of the vaccine and other information related by genuine people are being misinterpreted by some other parties. People do not know what to believe and what not to believe. Therefore they should be educated with accurate and adequate facts on side effects of the vaccine.

The public has other concerns such as obtaining the same vaccine for both doses (this is because some consultants stressed the importance of obtaining the same vaccine in both doses and not from two different brands of vaccines) and the duration between the first dose and the second dose. Concerns were also raised over the duration of immunity that can be obtained after the second dose, the possibility of obtaining a preferred vaccine from the private sector etc.

Meanwhile speaking to the media recently Health Services Director General Dr. Asela Gunawardene expressed concern over the lack of public cooperation to bring the pandemic under control. It is left to the people to decide whether they would hold wedding receptions, parties, public functions and enjoy as in the past, or reduce merry making events to the barest minimum to pave way for the reopening of schools, universities and allow other closed institutions to reopen and function.

He had also stated to media that the clusters of patients had originated from wedding receptions, parties and funerals where the participants were at the risk of contracting the disease. He requested the public to strictly adhere to the health guidelines without blaming the health authorities for the spread of the disease.

But still the public does not positively respond to any of those appeals made by the Health Services Director General or any other health officials. It is pathetic to see how the public behaves during this dangerous era. Consultants appeared on television and repeated the same thing again and again during the past 11 months but the public is making the same mistakes all the time since last March no matter how many times they were advised through media by consultants, experts, health authorities and the Government officials. The public turns a deaf ear and a blind eye to such advice.

It is very funny and pathetic at the same to see how weddings are organised by these days. Only 50 or the number of invitees permitted by the Public Health Inspectors / MOH should be allowed for any wedding these days according to the latest health guidelines and operational guidelines issued by the health authorities and the Government. What the organisers of wedding do these days in order to ‘follow’ the rule and invite as many as they want is organising three or four separate ‘mini weddings’ in addition to the main wedding. This funny and expensive practice was there even before COVID-19 but nowadays this practice is very common as a tool to mislead relevant authorities and to ignore health guidelines indirectly.

Usually we can see that couples organise around three or more ‘mini weddings’. One mini wedding in one province, another mini wedding in another province and the main wedding in Colombo or a suburb area. Altogether over 150 guests are being invited for the three weddings of the same couple. If the couple/ bride or the groom had COVID-19, only God can help the invitees. Nothing can be done legally until the relevant authorities in relevant three areas coordinate with each other and track down all three mini weddings of the same couple. But in this busy era relevant authorities hardly have time to tackle cunning plans of irresponsible couples and their parents/relations. Tracking down contacts takes place only when a large cluster of COVID-19 is created as a result of a wedding or some affected invitees get angry and reveal the true details of the event(s).

The other pathetic situation is only the police and law enforcement officials take action against people who do not follow relevant health guidelines issued by the health authorities and the Government to control COVID-19 and other persons such as Department Heads, Heads of Institutions, bus drivers, bus conductors, etc. do not take any action against those who do not follow health guidelines and do not take any action to protect the people who follow health guidelines.

Many families undergo quarantine because of irresponsible individuals who are not connected to them. During home quarantine, some family members who suffer from other health conditions such as Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) need to see their regular doctors and some people need urgent medical treatment. The authorities need to make sure that they attend to those urgent needs of the public. Still there is a possibility that healthy and normal people could get infected with COVID-19 due to certain shortcomings and loopholes that exist in the system and ignorance of some health workers.

Healthcare services

On the other hand little bit more attention need to be paid for the people who seek medical treatment and healthcare services from the private sector. The very first issue is many private health institutions charge extremely high prices for their services especially certain services such as performing PCR Tests. Usually a PCR Test costs around Rs. 9,000 in the private sector but some private hospitals charge extremely high prices such as Rs. 14,000 to come to the home of the individual (Colombo and suburbs), collect the samples and send the report via email. But anyone can see that this can be done at a cost of Rs. 12,000 or less.

The only way out is strictly following all health guidelines all the time no matter who says what. It is up to us to protect ourselves from COVID-19 and no one can save us from COVID-19 other than ourselves. You have to do a few simple things. First thing is being mindful all the time. Secondly you need to wear a standard face mask covering both your mouth and nose. The third step is keeping at least two metres of distance from another person all the time and the last step is washing hands with soap and water often. A quality hand sanitizer should be used whenever soap and water are not available.