ECONOMYNEXT – Despite a six-month-long inter-provincial travel ban being lifted after a significant drop in daily cases of COVID-19, the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) on Monday (01) said that the situation is getting worse, not better.
“With the new data SLMA has gathered, we would like to remind you that the COVID-19 situation in the country has not improved but has worsened, ” SLMA President Dr Padma Gunaratne said at a press briefing.
“We too thought infections had subsided with fewer cases being detected. The general public feels the same.”
Sri Lanka’s health authorities lifted a travel ban between provinces on Sunday, though critics maintain that people have been crossing provincial borders regardless. With Christmas approaching, Colombo’s bustling Pettah market can b seen packed with people with little regard to COVID-19 guidelines. Life appears to have almost returned to normal, as far as much of the public is concerned, but the SLMA is worried.
According to SLMA figures, the last week of October saw 5,002 cases reported in Sri Lanka, indicating a 12.2 percent increase compared to the previous week.
The COVID-19 death counts too have increased by 9 percent, SLMA said, with 132 reported compared to the previous 121.
Dr Gunaratne urged the authorities and the public to not let their guard down, adding that there are lapses in health guidelines being followed.
“Even fully vaccinated people can be infected mildly which could be passed on to their own families. So follow the guidelines 100 percent.”
She also called on the public to stick to the number of participants the health authorities have permitted for events such as weddings.
Sri Lanka has vaccinated 62 percent of its population.
The country also began rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot on Monday starting with frontline workers who received their second dose over six months ago.
The Public Health Inspectors (PHI) Union shared similar views to the SLMA. PHI Union Chairman Upul Rohana told reporters on Sunday (October 31) that relaxation of restrictions does not mean the public can disregard guidelines.
“If we do not follow the health guidelines strictly, we will again face a disastrous situation in the near future. Already there are some signs of increase in patient counts in some areas.”
Sri Lanka’s third-COVID wave accelerated by the Sinhala-Tamil new year festivals in mid-April when a large swath of the population crossed inter-province to celebrate the festival. (Colombo/Nov11/2021)