Don’t ‘gift’ COVID to your loved ones this season | Daily News

Don’t ‘gift’ COVID to your loved ones this season

Avurudu brings Sri Lankans together, but authorities have advised people to observe all health precautions
Avurudu brings Sri Lankans together, but authorities have advised people to observe all health precautions

An important factor of the hour was highlighted by Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Sudath Samaraweera addressing the press conference held at the Health Promotion Bureau in Colombo last Thursday. Addressing journalists, he stated that there is a risk of COVID-19 spreading from Colombo and the Western Province to the other areas of the country during the New Year season through people who are visiting other areas of the country from Colombo to celebrate the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. The Health Ministry has issued a special set of guidelines in connection with celebrating the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

Last year we did not have a chance to visit our ancestral homes and other areas in order to celebrate the Sinhala and Tamil New year. But this year we can celebrate the event with our families. However, it is our responsibility to prevent taking COVID-19 from Colombo and the Western Province to the other areas of the country and not ‘gift’ COVID-19 to our elderly as the ‘deadly’ New Year gift. Vaccination against COVID-19 took place all over the country successfully but the health authorities very clearly announced that receiving a vaccine should not be considered as a licence to avoid health guidelines introduced by the health authorities and the Government in order to prevent COVID-19. But it is pathetic to see how people of Sri Lanka behave during these days ignoring all health guidelines putting themselves and others at risk.

Every festive season is a golden opportunity for businessmen, traders, etc. to sell extremely low quality stuff, especially food items, to the people putting their health at a huge risk. Not only food, almost all the other things can be found for a very low prices in the market these days but most of them are of very low quality and not suitable for consumption. No matter how hard the relevant authorities such as Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) try to curb this mafia, the fraudulent traders sell low quality and dangerous goods to the people. It is up to the people to be vigilant and spend money wisely only for essentials without giving away hard earned money to these ‘crooks’. Buying only essentials will save people from COVID-19 because it limits the number of places people visit and time spent in crowded places.

It is pathetic to see that almost all celebrations include liquor. Liquor brings evil and nothing else. The very first thing that happens just after taking liquor is losing mindfulness. During this time the first thing that catches you once you lose mindfulness is COVID-19. It does not stop there. You take it home to your elderly parents, other elderly relations, children and especially your loved ones who suffer from Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cancer, heart diseases, kidney diseases, liver diseases, hypertension and loved ones who take drugs to lower their immunity after organ transplant surgeries and similar health conditions.

Ganu Denu is a well-known New Year tradition

You will be able to celebrate until one or more of them die at home even without knowing that they got infected with COVID-19. When you discover that it was you who gave them COVID-19, it will be too late for you to reverse things. Your ‘celebration’ will become an unforgettable celebration which will bring the bitter memory back every April.

All types of celebrations promote COVID-19 because sharing things, moving very closely to each other, hugging, laughing, etc., are very common in every celebration. Sharing plates, glasses, etc., can spread COVID-19 quickly. Moving closely and hugging each other is another way to spread COVID-19 and that is why people were asked to maintain at least a one-and-a-half metre distance from each other. Shouting and laughing splash COVID-19 droplets to a long distance because a person cannot keep his or her mask on and eat or drink. Therefore it can quickly distribute the virus among participants of the event, no matter whether it is a New Year celebration or not. Musical shows are the deadliest.

Drunk driving will kill many innocent people just as happened in the recent past. If infants, elders and people in high risk categories take part in New Year festivities and other events, the outcome of COVID-19 can be witnessed quickly because they can get infected and die even before seeking medical treatment. We can say we really celebrated this New Year if we can save the lives of our grandparents, aged parents, infants, sick loved ones, etc., to see the New Year celebration of the next year, 2022. That will be the measurement of our good or bad behaviour of this New Year.

The other most serious issue is transporting COVID-19 virus to other areas of the country from the Western Province. We saw how some people living in the Western Province packed their bags and left the Province just before a three-day curfew was imposed last year. The problem is not leaving the Western Province per se. The problem was taking COVID-19 with them to all the other areas of the country, especially to their ancestral homes where their elderly parents and adult relations with Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and other chronic diseases live.

Last year health authorities, Armed Forces and the police appealed to the residents of the Western Province not to leave the Province for any reason but this appeal was totally ignored. We cannot violate other people’s right to live and other human rights. We can enjoy freedom without violating the freedom of other people. What the people who left the Western Province before the curfew did was bring death very close to the elderly and sick people living in other areas of the country. This is an offence which cannot be forgiven on any grounds.

Our parents and all the other elderly relations never say in their lifetime not to visit them. They are eagerly waiting to see their children, grand children and other youngsters in their families. That is their nature. They never say, “Don’t come home”. They value their children and grandchildren more than their own lives. They prefer death after seeing them. This is the nature of the majority of Sri Lankan parents and grandparents.

It is our duty to protect them. We should not take COVID-19 as a ‘deadly gift’ to our elderly parents and other adult relations who may suffer from NCDs or any other chronic disease. The elderly and people who suffer from NCDs and other chronic diseases survive COVID-19 rarely. If we really care about our elderly parents and other relations, first of all we need to protect ourselves from COVID-19.

People who leave Colombo and the Western Province usually stop their vehicles at various places to buy things and see the beauty of nature contaminating the entire route. They distribute COVID-19 on their way to whatever destination located outside the Western Province.

Then they ‘gift’ COVID-19 to the relations, staff of the hotel or any other place where they stay. They may infect the innocent family who accommodates them. Then what about the other people in those unaffected areas who come and stay in contaminated hotels and other places without knowing that the places had been contaminated?

They never stop there. They infect another route on their way back to home located in the Western Province. We should not do the same for this New Year and we should not allow anyone to commit the same crime again and again. Innocent aged and sick people who do not use Facebook should not die because of the ‘Facebook post menace’ of the people. The majority of people want to show the whole world about their ‘celebration’. Showing off their ‘celebration’ is their one and only aim.