Lessons from Minuwangoda - 2 | Daily News


Lessons from Minuwangoda - 2

The detection of the largest Coronavirus cluster yet in this country leaves little doubt that we are in the midst of another wave of the deadly pandemic that is going to need a Herculean effort from the authorities to arrest its spread let alone contain it within the confines of a specific zone. The epicentre of the pandemic encompassing Minuwangoda and Divulapitiya is in a chaotic state with attempts being made by the authorities to stem the tide of infections.

The danger here is that there is no clear guarantee that the remaining factory workers who came out with a clean bill of health are free of the Coronavirus, given medical opinion that there was still a chance that there may be carriers who have passed the PCR tests. Hence, the task before the health authorities can be that much harder, what with the tenacious hunt now on with the aid of Intelligence sleuths to track down the first contacts and also their associates and in turn their contacts down to the last link in the cluster chain, which will sap the energies and the resources of the State apparatus.

The exercise has become doubly complicated after it was discovered that the first contacts, meaning family members of those already tested positive, giving the slip to the police engaged in rounding up such family members to place them under quarantine. It has been found that most of them had left their homes to live in other addresses far away from their original residences while others had virtually gone into hiding. These include those garment factory workers who had not reported for work following the initial detection of the supervisor for Coronavirus and those who had been on leave.

The detection of positive cases in places as far away as Moneragala, Polonnaruwa, Badulla, Kurunegala, Dehiattakandiya, Kandy and Jaffna could well be the tip of the iceberg - the result of the carries from the Minuwangoda garment factory living in these areas being in free circulation, which could exacerbate the danger. Hence, immediate measures are called for to locate them and made them undergo quarantine procedures.

According to Army Commander Lt. General Shavendra Silva, who is also the Head of the National Operations Centre for the Prevention of Covid- 19, repeated calls for the garment factory workers who had still not reported to leave their homes and submit themselves for PCR tests had had little effect. Perhaps these persons may well be weighed down by an imagined stigma attached to being placed under quarantine which should be dispelled by the authorities. After all, they are not being confined for a disease that ostracizes them from society to have any such misgivings. Another reason for suspected cases failing to come into the open could well be fears of dismissal from their workplaces due to being singled out as Coronavirus carriers, even after fulfilling the mandatory quarantine requirements. Perhaps an assurance from all employers could help allay such fears and anxieties.

Lt.General Silva also underscored the seriousness of the situation when he said that no place in the country was safe from the novel Coronavirus, urging all persons to exercise maximum vigilance. He lamented though about the casual approach still being observed by some members of the public. He was citing instances where the husbands of those garment factory employees who tested positive, going about their normal business and even reporting for duty at their offices which led the authorities to extend the curfew to other areas outside immediate “danger zone,”, with the likelihood of a countrywide lockdown looming ahead ominously.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa received the plaudits of all countrymen for his steadfast commitment to ensure that the virus was contained to manageable proportions during its first outbreak in March this year, receiving praise from the World Health Organization (WHO) with Sri Lanka ranking the ninth among the countries of the world which was making headway in successfully grappling with the problem. Similarly there is no doubt that all necessary steps will be taken by him to confront the present challenge as well using all the tools at his disposal. At that time, President Rajapaksa did not hesitate to take unpopular measures even if it cost the Government politically- an essential quality of a leader. The law enforcement was given strict instructions not to condone any violations of health and quarantine guidelines. All sectors of the Government, with the health workers, police and Security Forces standing out worked round the clock to their optimum to ensure the coronavirus was localised preventing its spread to the far corners of the country.

Hence it is incumbent on all citizens to abide by the prevailing health regulations and help Sri Lanka come to grips with the worst health emergency yet seen in this country, and, arguably, in the whole world.