Neither here nor confinement – Nation Online
Often, when faced with an impossible choice, priority is given to mitigating losses rather than maximizing gains. However, when making such a choice, it is important to stand firm on the decision that has been made, or one risks losing on both sides. This is precisely the kind of situation Sri Lanka experienced last month, in the face of a worsening pandemic, being forced to choose between sacrificing the economy to implement a lockdown, or risking health security. public by authorizing the continuation of the activity.
Ostensibly, the country has chosen to prioritize public health over the economy, implementing an island-wide lockdown since August 20 in a bid to curb the alarming increase in cases and deaths from Covid-19. But on the ground the situation was quite different, as on many weekdays, including yesterday (16), the roads were congested with traffic as many people continued to travel – a stark contrast to the deserted streets. which we witnessed during the first lockdown. in 2020.
Now speculation is rife that on September 21 the government will lift island-wide travel restrictions as the peak in Covid-19 cases appears to be slowly easing and people are hoping to resume. their daily activities. But as we think back to this most recent lockdown, how it was implemented and, most importantly, how seriously we the citizens have followed it, we have to ask ourselves if we ever really made this choice. impossible, or if we just tried to catch two rabbits at the same time. and came empty-handed.
First of all, we have to ask ourselves why did we go for containment? Simply, the number of cases had reached a point where hospitals were overcrowded, patients were running out of oxygen and almost everyone knew the name of someone who belonged to those dreaded Covid-19 statistics. But have the past four weeks been enough to mitigate the risk of another spike in cases?
According to the best medical professionals, the answer is a big no. Independent health experts have called on the government to extend the current lockdown for a few more weeks, preferably until October, while some health ministry officials have also said that reopening the country without a proper plan to ensure personal security would further complicate the situation.
However, there is also this pressing need to ensure the health of our struggling economy. Being beset by a number of problems, it seems the country has no choice but to allow businesses to operate, or face dire economic consequences. But here we have to ask another question: whether we had been properly confined for the past four weeks, sacrificing our need to go out to work, or to see our loved ones, or in some cases, just to take a breath of fresh air. fresh, would the number of cases not have dropped to a level sufficient to convince health experts that the country can reopen and resume operations safely? Let’s not forget that it was the companies themselves who chose to close their shutters out of fear for their lives, before the government intervened to declare containment.
Put simply, we wanted to have our cake and eat it too, and now we are seeing the repercussions of our failure to comply with the restrictions – although the country has been stranded for almost a month, the country has achieved insignificant results in this regard. which concerns the pandemic is concerned. This slight reduction in the workload is not sufficient to justify a complete return to normal; in fact, we risk seeing another sharp increase in cases in a few weeks if we reopen the country.
Worse yet, the pseudo-foreclosure currently in place has only hampered the smooth running of businesses, reducing revenue sources for both government and the population, and further weakening the economy. If we had properly restricted travel and filed cases, we could truly hope to restart key economic sectors such as tourism and attract FDI, without the lingering fear of a new wave of Covid-19.
However, at the rate we go, Sri Lanka could find itself stuck in a never-ending cycle of a spike in cases, calls for a lockdown on health authorities, the government’s insistence that the economy cannot not survive another lockdown, further and stronger calls for a lockdown from health officials and the political opposition, and ultimately from the government withered under pressure and imposing a nominal lockdown with much movement. Essentially, by imposing these lockdowns neither here nor there, investors and tourists all over the world would see that Sri Lanka is officially closed and be dissuaded from doing so, while Sri Lankans roam free and spread the virus, thus thwarting the objective of the lockdown. . The only way to break this cycle is for the authorities to put in place definitive measures, and for the population to take the situation seriously, otherwise being faced with an impossible choice will become a regular occurrence.