ECONOMYNEXT- The government is unlikely to accede to a request made by Colombo Mayor Rosy Senanayake to shut down the country’s commercial capital to deal with the Covid 19 pandemic, highly-placed government sources told EconomyNext.
At a press conference held yesterday in the city, Senanayake appealed to the central government to consult the Epidemiological Unit of the Department of Health and map out a strategy for Colombo.
“It is my proposal that we lock down the whole city and rigidly enforce guidelines to limit people moving about for at least three weeks,” Senanayake told reporters.
The city is badly hit by the virus as several thousand people have been detected in the Colombo Municipal Council area as being positive.
The Colombo district has the highest density of Covid positive cases in the country and its Health Authorities say that that 5pct of the population may be infected, meaning nearly 30,000 cases in the city alone.
The National Task Force combating Covid has locked down 17 Police areas in the city limiting movements.
Senanayake says more random testing should take place in her city to locate patients. “Then we can isolate them and treat them. We need central government help as the City does not have the means nor the staff to do so.”
“We are currently testing only first tier and second tier contacts of infected people. That is not enough,” she said.
She said the city has recalled retired Municipal health workers and also hired medical students to help out with testing, tracing and treatment.
“More than 200 members of the Municipal Council staff are sick,” Senanayake said.
However, a senior member of the National Task Force told EconomyNext on the condition of anonymity that it has “located the areas of Colombo where there are high concentrations of patients and locked those areas down anyway.”
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is reluctant to go for lengthy lockdowns due to the economic damage caused by them.
He has stated publicly that there will not be lengthy lock-downs because the daily-wage earners in those areas will struggle to make a living. (Colombo November 17, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana