Follow the health precautions | Daily News

Follow the health precautions

The first death of a medical doctor from the Coronavirus in Sri Lanka last week ought to ring alarm bells as to the highly invasive nature of the contagion which has now come to the stage of even claiming the lives of medical personnel who are authorities on the nature of the pandemic and are well versed in the necessary precautions to be taken to ward off the virus. This was followed by the death from COVID of Dr. Neville Fernando, an eminent medical practitioner who had gifted a fully fledged hospital to the Government. Moreover, several Sri Lankan doctors working abroad have also succumbed to the disease.

The deaths of Dr. Gayan Danthanarayana and Dr. Fernando would shock not only the members of the medical fraternity but also the public, most of whom felt first-hand the kind of attention and care given them by the doctors, medical staff and other health workers during these traumatic times. The former victim was only 32-years-old which now raises the very real possibility of COVID-19 being liberally spread irrespective of age groups. It is not known if the young doctor, who was found to be diabetic, was a recipient of the first round of the vaccine that was given to the first responders such as doctors, nurses and health workers. With the deaths of the two doctors and the reported hospitalisation of scores of other doctors, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the pandemic has now assumed a runaway streak in some areas.

This comes at a time when the authorities are planning to reopen all schools on February 15 and all zoological gardens have been reopened. The airports too are open for the arrival of tourists. COVID-19 deaths from the medical profession itself where all precautions are in place is sure to send shockwaves among the ordinary public. This is all the more reason that they should strictly follow the restrictions and health guidelines to the letter. But far from this, each day we read of the mounting number of arrests being made by the Police of violators of the restrictions. It was reported recently that 50 persons who were at a party sans face masks had been taken into custody and fined. When will our people ever learn?

Nevertheless, following the tragic episode of the doctors’ deaths, more attention should be focused on the first responders including medical staff and Forces/Police personnel. It would be prudent to withdraw from service doctors who themselves have Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) that make them vulnerable to contract the virus. It is dangerous to keep them in the firing line.

Ditto for all other health workers who have NCDs that make them candidates for contracting the virus. Of course, the commitment and sacrifice of these souls in exposing themselves to danger should be appreciated. Ideally, their worth should be rewarded adequately in monetary and other terms by authorities. Theirs is a silent service that has for the larger part gone unsung. Not just their safety one has also to consider the risk posed to their husbands/wives, parents and children, despite all the precautions they may take.

Meanwhile, fears are being expressed on the possible side effects of the vaccines following the development of complications among some medical staff after receiving the jab. Of course, the response to a vaccine depends largely on one’s immune system. It is common to experience certain side effects after getting any vaccine, not just the COVID vaccines. Those with a hardy constitution, so to speak, could withstand the effects of the vaccine and those with feeble immune systems could develop complications.

But what one should consider is the larger picture. Would you reject the vaccine for fear of developing complications or run the risk of perishing altogether by rejecting the jab? In any event availing oneself of the vaccine is voluntary and the choice is up to the individual(s) concerned.

From what is evident, the Coronavirus is spreading fast and the sooner the vaccine is made available to the rest of the public the sooner the authorities would be able to mitigate the effect. Israel, which has inoculated the highest percentage of citizens in terms of population is already seeing positive effects as herd immunity comes into play.

Meanwhile, Colombo Mayor Rosy Senanayake says COVID-19 random tests are to be continued across Colombo at least until such time all are vaccinated against the virus or the Health Ministry guidelines suggest otherwise, according to a news report. Of course Colombo needs special focus due to the mounting number of cases, chiefly due to the clusters created following the relaxation of restrictions on account of the festive season.

Colombo City has a dense population. It certainly is going to be a logistical nightmare when it comes to the turn of Colombo residents for vaccination. Hopefully the authorities will devise essential safeguards and summon the necessary manpower for this purpose from among the healthcare fraternity.