Needed: Greater cooperation with health guidelines | Daily News

Needed: Greater cooperation with health guidelines

Health workers prepare to treat a COVID-19 patient
Health workers prepare to treat a COVID-19 patient

Ninety-seven (97) persons out of the 211 who died from COVID-19 in Sri Lanka were above the age of 70 and 144 of them are from the Colombo district. The number of people who died at home is 85.

The number of persons who are between the ages of 61 and 70 who died from COVID-19 in Sri Lanka is 42. The second highest number of deaths from COVID-19 reported in Sri Lanka is from the Kalutara district (25) and Gampaha district recorded 16 deaths. The third age group which reported the highest number of deaths (35) is between 51 and 60 years of age.

According to the National Unity Alliance Leader Azath Salley, around 120 of the total number of COVID-19 deaths by December 27 were Muslims. He announced this through the media on December 27 and several media institutions reported it. Since the country is now debating the issue of burying or cremating the bodies of the COVID-19 deceased, we should analyse the statistics in detail.

Around 125 Muslims have died when the total number of Sri Lankan COVID-19 deaths is 208. The percentage is over 60 percent. The numbers and percentages may slightly change when we consider the official and updated statistics but the percentage never dropped below 60 percent.

For some reason, the relevant authorities never disclose these analyses. But the true statistics are available in the public domain and anyone can find these statistics by simply perusing official media reports released by the Government Information Department since March 2020.

The only big question is why over 60 percent of Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 deaths are from one ethnicity. Scientists can give various opinions. It is important to find out the answer to this question because the answer provides clues for many other questions related to the COVID-19 situation in Sri Lanka.     

One can argue that some Muslims do not seek medical treatment and die at home due to the fear of being cremated in the event of death. The statistics presented above very clearly prove that it is not true at all because all 125 of these COVID-19 deaths have not taken place at home and not all 83 COVID-19 home deaths occurred at Muslim residences. Then we can simply drop this argument.  

According to the last census conducted by the Sri Lankan Government, the majority of Sri Lankans are Sinhalese. Then the majority of people who die from COVID-19 should be from the Sinhalese community. But according to rough calculations done by Azath Salley, around 120 of the total number of COVID-19 deaths by December 27 were of Muslims. This number could not have decreased by now. Then the big question is why? 

Is the immunity of the Muslims community lower than that of other ethnicities living in Sri Lanka? Not at all. They are as healthy as all the other communities living in Sri Lanka and they have the same type of ailments just as other Sri Lankans belonging to any other ethnicity. All communities in Sri Lanka have the same level of good health. No ethnicity differs from another.  

Do Muslims eat and drink something that is not consumed by other ethnicities living in Sri Lanka? No. Almost all communities eat the same types of food in Sri Lanka. They eat vegetarian and non-vegetarian food and drink water and all other types of natural and artificial drinks available in Sri Lanka. Therefore we can rule out that it is food and beverages that made the difference.   

Is there any supernatural force that causes more deaths among one particular community? No supernatural force is more powerful than the religions we all follow in Sri Lanka and therefore no invisible force can cause more deaths in any particular community. There is no connection to aliens either. The one and only invisible force and enemy is COVID-19 and it attacks all. It does not recognize the religion, ethnicity, skin colour, sex, or any other difference.

Now we should look at a few simple health guidelines issued by the health authorities and the Government in order to prevent COVID-19. They are wearing a proper mask covering both nose and mouth, keeping at least one-and-a-half metre’s distance from another person all the time no matter where we go and what we do, washing hands with soap and water often, and using a hand sanitizer whenever soap and water are not available. Anyone can do these simple things.

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on all Sri Lankans belonging to all religions and ethnicities because COVID-19 does not identify an individual’s race or religion. All love their own lives and all are interested in protecting themselves, their family members and their future generation from COVID-19. Therefore they must all follow all health guidelines issued to them by the health authorities and the Government all the time.  

Analysts should also find out the ethnicities of the total number of COVID-19 positive cases in Sri Lanka. In the end, it is important to remember that all those affected and all those who die from COVID are Sri Lankans. All their lives are precious. In this island, we all live like one big family irrespective of our differences. This is why religious leaders of all religions have a huge role to play in reducing the COVID-19 footprint. Based on the instructions of the Government and their religious leaders, all Sri Lankans belonging to whatever community and religion did not celebrate any of their religious events last year. Hence we could manage the first wave really well.

The temple, kovil, mosque and church in all towns and villages must become centres for disseminating health information to the faithful, with their priests acting as ‘health guardians’. All the Great Masters and Founders of religions have described health as the prime wealth. Religious leaders must ask their congregations to strictly follow health guidelines and also to participate in any COVID tests ordered by the authorities. There is no use evading the tests or treatments. That will only aggravate the situation. All Sri Lankans have to abide by the health authorities’ laws and regulations at this crucial juncture when the case numbers are rising. All must cooperate to keep case numbers down, at least until we achieve herd immunity through the vaccines, by cooperating with health authorities and following their guidelines which have been drawn up for the greatest good of the greatest number.

An Army bus waiting to transport villagers to a quarantine centre-An isolated village