Fleeing WP is no solution to Corona woes | Daily News

Fleeing WP is no solution to Corona woes

The main topic discussed in almost all social media and mainstream media during the last three days was how some people living in the Western Province packed their bags and left the Province last Thursday before the three-day curfew period came into force.

The problem is not leaving the Western Province. 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.

The media reported that the Police initiated a special operation to detect persons who have travelled out of Western Province, despite requests to remain within the province. The operation focused on guesthouses and hotels and other places of accommodation where people may have lodged after traveling out of the Western Province. Such people were also be detected while they tried to re-enter the Western Province and also through their Facebook accounts. Some of them had posted Api Penagaththa (‘We ran away’ or ‘We escaped’) in their Facebook accounts after leaving the Western Province, the media reports stated.

Health authorities, the Armed Forces and the Police appealed to the residents of the Western Province not to leave the province for any reason. A special operation was launched to identify if people had travelled out of Colombo. Law enforcement authorities will take action against people who have travelled out of Colombo violating quarantine regulations under the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordinance.

Meanwhile the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) officials stated that Medical Health Officers (MOHs) and Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) have been deployed to provide assistance to the Police to detect persons who travelled out of the Western Province before the curfew. Those who have travelled out of the province are posing a great risk to the entire country.

GMOA officials stated that the Police had commenced special operations to detect the persons who had travelled out of the Western Province adding that legal action would be taken against them for violating quarantine regulations under the quarantine law.

GMOA Secretary Dr. Haritha Aluthge stated that he personally observed many vehicles at the Southern Expressway entrance in Kottawa before the curfew. People still don’t understand their responsibility and how they are putting others’ lives at risk. People had gone on holiday despite requests to remain within the province and the health officers in relevant areas now have to take extra measures to identify these people.

According to Dr. Aluthge, the doctors always advise the public that in the current situation, most patients were asymptomatic and the relevant authorities needed time to detect those patients. That was the main reason to impose the curfew in the Western Province. The persons who violate the health provision in areas confirmed as virus-infected areas can be punished with a maximum fine of Rs. 10,000 or six-month term of imprisonment or both.

People cannot violate other people’s right to live and other human rights. They can enjoy their freedom if it does not violate the freedom of other people. Therefore, there is no way of justifying leaving the Western Province before the curfew on Thursday midnight. 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, grandchildren and other youngsters in their families. That is their nature. They never say “Don’t come home.” These words will never come out from their mouths in their lifetime. This is because they love 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 could have explained to them the gravity of the problem and postponed our journeys to ancestral homes. If they do not understand, we should have used many other methods to ensure their safety. Telling a white lie in order to protect their life is not a sin at all. We could have told them that we are not well or something else in order to postpone the trip home. But what did we do? We took 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 other people who suffer from NCDs and other chronic diseases rarely survive Covid-19.

The people who left the Western Province before the curfew did not commit only one offence. They had committed several offences. The people who went on picnics did this. They stopped at various places to buy things and see the beauty of nature contaminating the entire route they travelled. They distributed Covid-19 on their way to whatever destination located outside the Western Province. Then they ‘gifted’ Covid-19 to the staff of the hotel or any other place they stayed. They may have infected the innocent family who accommodated them for money or as friends or relations. Then what about the other people in those areas who come and stay in contaminated hotels and other places?

They did not stop there. They infected another route on their way back to home located in the Western Province. They selected this hidden route in order to avoid the police roadblocks. Maybe the caretaker who looked after their home during the past three days is a Covid-19 patient by now. The damage has been done. Now action needs to be taken against those irresponsible and selfish culprits.

Acting irresponsibly and in a very selfish manner is the nature of some Sri Lankans. This is not something new. We have observed this since the 2004 tsunami. Although the health authorities, Armed Forces and others thank people for being responsible and supporting the efforts made by the Government to control Covid-19, the reality is some deserve this appreciation while some others do not. Some are not even bothered to wear a mask in public and there is no need to talk about keeping the minimum one-metre distance from another and washing hands.

This is Sri Lanka and not Sweden where people live in a cold and dark climate for 10 months of the year and see the sun just for two months. People living in those Scandinavian countries have the chance to come out and enjoy sunlight only in June and July. Even these two months is a ‘light winter’ for Asian people like us who live in warmer climate. They spend the rest of the 10 months working and staying inside most of the time in order to avoid the minus temperatures and the dark climate. Therefore, it is justifiable for them to go out and stay under sunlight in the middle of Covid-19.

But what about Sri Lankans who can go on picnics at any time of the year? Do they work for 10 months? They don’t work even during their official working hours. They can ‘make’ long weekends whenever they want. Usually they never go out from the Western Province during normal times because they have many ‘other things’ to do during their free time and many ‘other places’ to visit. Then why did they leave last Thursday? This is because they did not have any ‘other thing’ to do due to the closure of almost all ‘places’ due to the Covid-19 threat.

There are good people and bad people in Sri Lanka. There are selfish people and selfless people. But it is the responsibility of all authorities to treat them differently. Bad people need bad treatment or at least tough action and good people need good treatment or at least relief from certain rules and regulations. Equally treating both good people and bad people is not acceptable on any grounds.

There should be a difference. At least then bad people will try to be good or at least pretend that they are good people. We are talking about the people who obey and respect rules and regulations implemented by the Government in order to protect the people from Covid-19 and the people who knowingly or unknowingly ignore those rules and regulations.

The other crucial factor is the relevant authorities should be smarter than these selfish and irresponsible people. Therefore the authorities should think about this crucial factor hereafter whenever imposing rules and regulations at a specific time.