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Despite all praise for the first countrywide lockdown with curfew imposed from end March to mid May 2020 in controlling the first wave, the COVID-19 virus did spread gradually to create a large second wave in early October from Brandix factory in Minuwangoda and in a week from the Peliyagoda fish market.

Health ministry experts and administrators refused to call that a “community spread” but the COVID-19 National Operation Centre headed by Army Commander General Shavendra Silva imposed local lockdowns and isolated over 70 police and grama niladhari divisions mainly in Colombo Municipal Council area and in Colombo – Gampaha districts in months that followed to arrest the COVID-19 virus spread.

Schools, universities and private tuition classes were all ordered closed.

Third wave began breaking out in many districts and by April 2021 all districts reported COVID-19 virus spread and especially apparel factories in the export manufacturing sector. Again, Western Province reported larger numbers.

There began a loud call for a “countrywide total lockdown” in Colombo middleclass circles including professionals.

SLMA, GMOA, PHI trade union, collectives of numerous professionals wrote to the President and the PM demanding a total lockdown at least for 02 consecutive weeks.

The Government compromised and declared stringent travel restrictions including inter-provincial travel, closed down hotels, restaurants and cafes, supermarkets and groceries. All government and private schools, universities and private tuition classes remained closed from the beginning of the year.

These preventive measures weren’t enough for experts and professionals. They wanted a clear and firm countrywide lockdown for 02 weeks. The government conceded though without curfew and without using the term “countrywide lockdown” from 25 May prior to Wesak till 07 June.

This was extended till 14 June and further extended till Monday 21 June.

A countrywide lockdown not just for 02 weeks, but for almost 04 weeks.     

What progress? Compare the numbers below.

COVID-19 death toll

2021 May 08th to 31st – total 07 deaths for 24 days

2021 June 01st to 10th – total 55 deaths in 10 days during countrywide lockdown  

(DGHS news release on 12 June 2021 / Release No.566/2021)

2021 April 30 to 03 May confirmed cases 3,443 for 04 days

2021 May 04 – 943

2021 May 05 – 970

 
During the on-going extended countrywide lockdown:


2021 June confirmed daily cases of COVID-19

June 01 – 2,877

June 02 – 3,306

June 03 – 3,297

June 04 – 3,410

June 05 – 3,103

June 06 – 2,976

June 07 – 2,646

June 08 – 2,682

June 09 – 2,735

June 10 – 2,738

June 11 – 2,789

June 12 – 2,354

June 13 – 2,361

 
Daily PCR tests May 16 - 27,183 is the highest carried out. During present lockdown;

pcrHealth workers collect a sample for coronavirus testing in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (Photo by Ajith Perera)

 

June 07 – 19,539

June 08 – 17,096

June 09 – 18,903

June 10 – 19,828

June 11 – 18,691

June 12 – 19,676

June 13 – 18,885

(All numbers from Health Promotion Bureau web posts).

 
It is recommended Sri Lanka should increase daily PCR testing to over 40,000 persons, the curative healthcare service can never cope with at present.

All indicate countrywide lockdown with curative healthcare is NO ANSWER !

Need to strengthen and empower community based preventive healthcare services.

 

Kusal Perera

2021 June 14