Stick to health guidelines to prevent a tragic situation – Army Commander | Sunday Observer

Stick to health guidelines to prevent a tragic situation – Army Commander

25 April, 2021

Dismissing prospects of a long term lockdown of country due to impending threats posed by a revived Covid- 19 wave, Army Commander General Shavendra Silva said people should strictly adhere to health guidelines spelt out by the Ministry in the coming days to prevent a tragic situation like in India.

“Sri Lankans have a good understanding of how to stay safe from Covid 19 pandemic”, he said speaking to media at a special press briefing at the Information Department, Colombo on Friday.

“However, we are in a time where the situation in our immediate neighbor India has gotten worse. The country recorded its highest of over 330,000 new cases per day last week. More than 2,000 people die every day, in the Europe and elsewhere are no different,” he said. The Army Commander said until New Year the country successfully contained the new Covid daily figures to 150 - 200. But by April 18 the number went up to 300 and by yesterday it has risen up to 900.

The vast majority of the Covid-19 infections were recorded from Kuliyapitiya Ganewatte, Wattala and the Diwulapitiya areas.

Colombo, Gampaha, Kurunegala, Kalutara, Galle, Anuradhapura, Puttalam, Jaffna, Hambantota, Kandy, Trincomalee districts had higher numbers comparatively. Going by these disturbing developments we expect the Covid-19 cases will increase within the coming few days.

People celebrated Avurudu with little regard for health guidelines, “We did not impose strict regulations during the festive season but issued guidelines with strict advice to comply. The Health Ministry advised people to celebrate New Year at home but it seems people have paid little attention to these warnings”, he added.

Packed shops and public transport during the last few days would have contributed to the spike in new cases, the Army commander observed.

We are recording higher numbers of Covid-19 cases in places where Avurudu uthsawa were organised with large numbers taking part. It is very unfortunate, the Army Commander said asking for cooperation from the masses to contain a possible third wave.

Professor at the Department of Immunology and Molecular Medicine at Faculty of Medical Sciences of Sri Jayawardenapura University Nileeka Malavige speaking at the Information Department media conference on Friday said, “By February India had successfully contained the spread of the deadly pandemic, recording only 11,000 cases per day. This was a very positive situation for a country like India.

Then there were cricket matches, and election rallies and people relaxed. I do not need to say the situation there today. We must ensure that Sri Lanka will not face a similar tragedy. We have to be extremely careful and strictly adhere to health protocols to reverse the current trend in the country.”

“Not only are the numbers increasing after the New Year but there is a new variant spreading in the country now. We have identified that this new variant is dangerous than the variant we saw in the first and second waves. We will be able to say more about this variant in the near future.

So far it is known that a patient with the new Covid variant can infect about 5- 6 people. Earlier it was limited to about 1- 2 people.

The fear over contracting the virus has currently waned. It is justified in a sense that 90 percent of the people who contracted the earlier variant of the virus were asymptomatic. But with the new variant, even the young patients show symptoms and in India, death rate among young patients have increased.

Prof. Malavige warned that this new variant is airborne unlike the old Covid 19 respiratory virus which is transmitted by droplets of saliva or discharge from nose.

“ To explain more, if I remove my mask and speak with people the virus that I will put out can float in the air for about 90 minutes. If someone comes in to this place and removes his mask for few minutes, the virus can infect that person even if he did not speak to me directly. That is the danger.”

‘Therefore, wearing the mask indoors is very vital, especially when you speak to friends and associates to protect them as well as you.’

“This virus will transmit and contract at crowded places so everyone must avoid such places until the threat clears. The virus density can go up if there are more than one Covid patient in such a closed environment,” she explained.

By Friday Sri Lanka recorded over 99,500 Covid- 19 cases and over 634 fatalities. The day accounted for over 900 new patients, a drastic increase from a daily figure of 150 cases before April 12.