Covid – be better prepared | Daily News

Covid – be better prepared

The grim spectre of Covid-19 is once again making its deadly presence felt with the largest number of cases detected on a single day reported on Saturday (20), so far this year plus a number of fatalities. According to the report, there were 15 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus and three deaths with the tally expected to rise in the coming days.

The fresh infections had raised the number of active cases so far to 61 and the total number overall to 672,357 while the full tally of the fatalities stood at 16,864. Sri Lanka currently stands at 80th position out of 231 countries reported since the pandemic began in March 2020.

It appears that the forecast made by World Health Organisation (WHO) Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of a reappearance of Covid-19 following its initial control is slowly coming to pass. Patients are once again reportedly being increasingly treated for fever, colds, headaches, throat infections etc. - symptoms associated with the pandemic.

With PCR testing now done away with, in all probability Covid may be lurking in our midst in a big way without our knowing it. Moreover, there is a new Covid strain called Arcturus doing the rounds around the world.

It could be back to square one reliving the nightmare days of the pandemic with the closure of workplaces, loss of jobs and the general dislocation of public life. The blow that will be dealt to the economy which is slowly getting back to its feet after the unprecedented slump, is difficult to imagine.

The public should be duly warned beforehand, especially on the precautions to be taken. As it is, for the public, life goes on as usual with face masks long dispensed with and the distance rule thrown out of the window with buses and trains packed to capacity.

Nobody talks about the Covid vaccines any longer which in all probability have lost their lifespan which will necessitate the import of the shots once again on a large-scale should there be a severe outbreak of the pandemic.

This would necessarily mean turning the clock back to those dark days with closure of whole areas and localities affected by the virus. It would also mean an extra strain imposed on health workers and hospital staff and additional beds for hospitals.

Hence, it would be better if the public was alerted to the possibility of the virus currently being in circulation and warned of the precautions to be taken instead of suddenly having the pandemic sprung on the public without warning. This will include giving advance warning to health workers and hospital staff to be prepared for any eventuality, and having the vaccines in readiness instead of waiting for the last moment.

The public should be warned to get back to the practice of wearing face masks with the distance rule too strictly enforced. We are not being alarmist and trying to paint a bleak picture, only that it is always better to be prepared beforehand if for nothing else than to minimize the damage, learning from experience.

By treating the pandemic lightly at the initial stages we had to pay a heavy price both in terms of lives lost and economic cost. It is in this context that the role played by the Armed Forces in combating the virus to a great degree should be appreciated. So are the health workers, particularly the Public Health Inspectors (PHIs), not forgetting the doctors some of whom even lost their lives after falling victim to the virus.

Hence, we should be better prepared this time with all precautions put in place beforehand. Doctors and medical specialists should again come on TV to issue warnings. Public transport should be alerted once again to carry passengers in terms of seating capacity. True, there could once again be an upward revision of bus and train fares as a result. But these inconveniences and hardships should be borne by the public in their larger interest.

Otherwise, the damage and harm could be far worse than on the previous occasion, and, particularly the economy would hardly be able to withstand the onslaught, the way things are at present.

While being alert to the possibility of another outbreak of Covid-19, one should also not lose sight of the mounting number of dengue cases with Colombo and Gampaha the worst affected. While fumigation is being conducted targeting risk areas, measures should also be taken to eliminate spots harbouring mosquitoes. There are still a large number of incomplete structures and buildings where work had come to a halt due to the previous round of the pandemic and also as a result of the economic slump. These provide a haven for mosquitoes.

Hotels and eateries too should be under constant check to ensure they operate under the proper hygienic conditions. Those contributing to dengue mosquito breeding spots by commission or omission should be dealt with under the law. The public should be better educated on the dangers posed by dengue and the necessary precautions to be taken. After all, dengue can claim more lives than even the Covid pandemic.


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