In Sri Lanka the number of COVID-19 cases passed 100 mark today, Tuesday (24) and the Health Ministry further announced that two COVID-19 infected patients were in critical condition; following the first local patient – the tour guide who was detected as being infected on March 11 – was discharged from hospital after being completely recovered.
Earlier as requested by the health authorities, police curfew was imposed throughout the country to fully effect the isolation programme; to quarantine people in high risk zones like Colombo, Gampaha, Puttalam and the five districts in the Northern province. These people were confined indoors continuously for 60 hours from 6pm, Friday (20) to this morning at 6am and when the curfew was finally lifted this morning from 6am to 12noon, public had only six hours to get their provisions and large queues were formed in front of every food and vegetables markets and grocery shops in these districts. Realizing the predicament of the people, the authorities promptly extended the curfew free hours further by two hours to 2pm to enable people to complete their purchases.
This risky situation was not conducive to curb spreading of the COVID-19 Virus as such the curfew that was imposed at 2pm in high risk districts will stay in place indefinitely with arrangements made for people to receive their provisions through mobile transport services to be arranged by the authorities with the suppliers. The curfew lifted in the rest of the districts in the island at 6.00 am yesterday was reimposed at 2.00 pm yesterday will be lifted at 6.00 am on Thursday (26) and reimposed the same day at 12 noon. There would be no restrictions to carry out agricultural activities and work related to paddy cultivation or harvesting. Transport of rice, vegetables, fruits and other essential commodities are allowed during curfew hours.
Further, it was announced that the government is to distribute a relief package containing five essential food items to people who are in dire need at this time of crisis, this package to include rice, potatoes, onions, dhal and canned fish and will be distributed in all areas. It is expected that Sathosa and Laksathosa will team up with the security forces to distribute this package in all areas. The packages are being put together in all SATHOSA stores to ensure that there is no shortage of any essential food item and its transport department will participate in the distribution process.
At a critical time the whole country was fighting to curb COVID-19 Virus spreading, a Pastor domiciled in Switzerland had with symptoms of a viral infection with shivering and fever, arrived in Sri Lanka on March 10. This Sri Lankan born Pastor from Switzerland, with his medical condition occurred had acted irresponsibly, as it is reported had associated with parishioners of the Philadelphia Church in Ariyalai in Nallur. The Pastor had taken advantage of the situation for his own agenda and there is an opinion circulating among the people in north that the Pastor arrival to under developed northern region of the island was to exploit the plight of many people, who are struggling to cope with the corona virus epidemic; further investigations are needed to find out if there were any political or religious motives behind this event.
This follows the incident where the Pastor concerned who left the country on March 16 on arrival in Switzerland was sent for treatment suspected of having COVID-19 infection. Much worse, the Pastor had associated with one person from the church and living in Thavady, Jaffna, who is now confirmed of having COVID-19 and is receiving treatment. Further more the Pastor had presided over a service with several hundreds in the congregation, who had traveled to the church from several parts of the Northern Province.
Already with over two hundred persons who attended this sermon have been identified and are put under observation for two weeks; the authorities are still looking for many more who were present at this gathering. As the gathering at Ariayalai in Jaffna peninsula included many hundreds of people from all four districts in the Northern Province; are all at risk of possible infection. The public in the affected four districts have been strictly advised by the authorities not to come out of their residences and go out of the area until all those who had contacts with the pastor has been found. In fact a small hamlet Thavady in Jaffna, where the victim undergoing treatment lives has been cordoned off for quarantine purposes.
The authorities were compelled to take strict action in the five high risk districts – Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Mannar and Mullaitivu in the Northern Province and travelling between these districts has been fully banned. An irresponsible Pastor visiting the province, that has put the lives of all those living there at risk of contacting COVID-19 virus. Excluding those who assisted the visit of the Pastor, the Northerners for no fault of their own are once again at the receiving end of much miseries!