Standing tall in the COVID-19 battle | Daily News

Standing tall in the COVID-19 battle

Schoolchildren in enclosures in their classroom in Thailand
Schoolchildren in enclosures in their classroom in Thailand

Sri Lanka achieved another accolade last week by becoming the tenth most successful country in the world when it comes to controlling COVID-19. It is a significant achievement for Sri Lanka because powerful countries such as the US stood much behind Sri Lanka and close to the bottom of the rankings. India was placed 86th.

A lot of things are revealed by this study and rankings. It is very important to study the background story of every country in order to climb up in the rankings and achieve a better place than now, including Sri Lanka. Since vaccination is now available in Sri Lanka against COVID-19, climbing the ladder will be easier than before.

According to the Australia based think tank the Lowy Institute, Sri Lanka is number ten in the list of countries that handled the COVID-19 pandemic most effectively.

The same study shows that New Zealand stands on top. Their findings are available on an interactive website. The Lowy Institute crunched data from over 100 countries. Researchers tracked COVID-19 case numbers in every country, as well as confirmed deaths and testing rates.

Vietnam stands in the second place while Taiwan stands in the third place. Thailand has won the fourth place. Cyprus won the fifth place while Rwanda won the sixth place. Iceland, Australia and Latvia won seventh, eighth and ninth places respectively.

We cannot forget that Vietnam defeated the US in a war and it is a country with pride, power and respect for local products, lifestyle, etc. Thailand is the country which immensely helped Sri Lanka to control dengue and provided us relevant resources, training, etc. We hear the name Cyprus when Sri Lankans go abroad for employment.

Rwanda reminds us of the genocide which was triggered by a song broadcast over radio. The real genocide took place in Rwanda while certain international elements see the Sri Lankan humanitarian operation which saved thousands of innocent civilians from the clutches of the LTTE as a ‘genocide’.

Iceland is not that popular a country in the world and it is the same with Latvia. But Australia is the dream land of some Sri Lankans who find fault with this precious island.

The United States has been ravaged by the pandemic and stands near the bottom of the table, at number 94. Indonesia and India did not perform much better, sitting at numbers 85 and 86, respectively.

The data also showed that authoritarian regimes performed better than democratic or ‘hybrid’ countries and there isn’t much of a difference between rich and poor. The first wave of infections hit the richer countries harder according to the survey, citing the fact that more citizens were travelling overseas.

No wonder authoritarian countries did better because we need one leadership to overcome any crisis and too many cooks will spoil the soup. What matters is the discipline of any nation and not whether it is rich or poor.

It is very interesting to see the number of deaths in each country which stands above Sri Lanka. New Zealand had only 25 COVID-19 deaths while Vietnam had only 35 deaths. Taiwan had only seven deaths while Thailand had 76 deaths. The number of COVID-19 deaths reported from Cyprus is only 193 and there were 183 deaths reported from Rwanda. Iceland reported 29 deaths while Australia reported 909 deaths. The highest number of deaths among the top nine countries had been reported by Latvia which is 1,138.

We cannot ignore another fact. Two main Buddhist countries in the world recorded zero COVID-19 deaths. They have been connected to Sri Lanka for centuries and have similar environments and cultures. One can say they are not as developed as Sri Lanka.

But we cannot ignore the fact that they have zero COVID-19 deaths. They are Bhutan and Cambodia. It is worth doing a separate study on these two countries in the region which are not that polluted and which do not accept everything that comes from abroad. Bhutan has continually been ranked as the happiest country in all of Asia, and the eighth Happiest Country in the world according to Business Week. In 2007, Bhutan had the second fastest growing GDP in the world, while maintaining their environment and cultural identity.

It is interesting to see what happens here in Sri Lanka. A total of 134 persons out of 305 who died from COVID-19 in Sri Lanka are above the age of 70 years and 195 of them are from the Colombo district. The number of people died at their homes is 100.

The number of persons who are between the ages of 61 and 70 who died from COVID-19 in Sri Lanka is 68. The second highest number of deaths reported in Sri Lanka is from the Kalutara district which is 34 and Gampaha district recorded 18 deaths. The third age group which reported the highest number of deaths (42) is between 51 and 60 years of age.

The COVID-19 deaths in Sri Lanka tell us a bitter story which is absolutely true. But no media reports it and no one analyzes the deaths because if this story comes out, certain things can be visible. The things that will be visible will not please the UN Human Rights experts. A possible analysis will tell Sri Lankan people who died why and how and from whom they need to protect themselves. The funniest part of the UN claim is ‘forced cremation’. No one forced anyone to cremate COVID-19 bodies. It is the rule of Sri Lanka for all ethnicities and one ethnicity cannot be given special treatment.

Now Sri Lanka has vaccines against COVID-19 and the people in high-risk groups can obtain the vaccine. The most important part of the announcement is that “no one is being forced to obtain the vaccine.” The meaning is no one is sure about the vaccines against COVID-19 because all the vaccines are still in the Phase 4 stage and still in the process of undergoing clinical trials. All the vaccines now in use have been given what is called ‘Emergency Use Authorization’. The final regulatory approval will be given for any COVID-19 vaccine in another one or two years. This is the bitter truth no matter whether we like to accept it or not.

One thing is very clear. COVID-19 will stay with us for another year or maybe two no matter if we like it or not. All cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19, especially infants, toddlers, children, pregnant women, lactating mothers, etc. Therefore vaccination will serve only a part of the population of any country and not the entire population. According to foreign media, adverse effects were reported from some people after receiving various vaccines but not the vaccine now used in Sri Lanka.

This is the very first time we face such a serious disease but this will not be the last time. That is sure. Therefore it will be easy and helpful for us to get used to health guidelines. Anyway the COVID-19 health guidelines protect us from all types of respiratory infections and many other communicable diseases. Therefore, we receive many benefits from following health guidelines and adding them to our day-to-day life regardless of whether COVID-19 is out there or not.

The only way out is strictly following all health guidelines all the time. 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. The first thing is being mindful all the time. Secondly, you need to wear a standard facemask 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 good quality hand sanitizer should be used whenever soap and water are not available. These are simple steps anyone can remember and do.