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Update: Failure of Militarised Approach and Worsening Covid-19 Pandemic Situation in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Brief Update: 16 August 2021

Failure of Militarised Approach and Worsening COVID-19 Pandemic Situation in Sri Lanka

  1. Health is a basic human right and Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has failed to ensure peoples health in the context of raging fourth wave of the Covid 19 pandemic.
  2. Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 death toll passed the 6,000 mark on 15 August after 161 deaths were confirmed for 14th. Total confirmed cases remain at 354,968 on 15th (These official figures have been contradicted by factual numbers)
  3. (Even with the doctored figures) The number 6.14 of daily confirmed deaths per million people of Sri Lanka‘s population is much higher than same number, for example USA (1.96) Brazil (4.6) Mexico (4.34) and India (0.35).
  4. The share of the total population that has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Sri Lanka is 17.6.%.
  5. The share of Covid-19 tests that are positive in Sri Lanka (12 August) are 18.6%. There are only dozens of countries which is in a higher category.
  6. On 12th August WHO-SL convened Independent Experts Group noted with great concern the current surge in COVID-19, nearly overwhelming the capacity of the health systems to provide the required adequate care for the people. The trends given below indicate that Sri Lanka could soon face a health crisis of unprecedented proportions.
  7. On 13th August the Government Nursing Officers Association has said in a statement that about 1,000 nurses and 4,000 health workers have been infected, with four deaths so far. The statement said the morgues were filled and had no space to accommodate bodies. It called upon the Government to adopt urgent measures to overcome the situation.
  8. On 14th August Government Medical Officers Association said that the actual daily Covid-19 death could be high as 250 and daily coild-19 positive cases could be around 5000.
  9. Pandemic related statistics certified by the GOSL has proved to be gross underestimate. For instance. For instance, Ministry of Health officially reported 3,615 Covid infections from Gampaha District within the last 9 days [3Aug to 12 Aug], but local officials stated that 12,750 patients have been reported during same period. On 10th Aug Ministry of Health reported only new 194 cases in the Eastern province while the local officials   reported 837 new cases.
  10. A WHO-SL convened experts’ group also insisted the need for “accurate reporting of both cases and deaths to get a better picture of the ground situation.”
  11. Infectious Disease Epidemiologist, Research Scientist and the Professor of Community Medicine Prof Suneth Agampodi says that the global use of Sri Lankan COVID-19 data seems useless and misleading simply due to the reported extreme data manipulations with keeping the numbers <3000 while the actual confirmed is >5000 daily.
  12. While the daily global case-fatality percentage for COVID-19 or the daily number of COVID-19 deaths compared to the daily infections, is as low as 4 percent, the stats show that the figure is as high as 5 percent in Sri Lanka.
  13. Sri Lanka government has not passed necessary legislation to implement Covid-19 related health guidelines and continue to enforce regulations by force, illegally.
  14. Opposition political parties and professional groups have insisted that the Pandemic control process should be led by Ministry of Health, and Health professionals; Necessary legislation should be passed by the parliament and be based on science.
  15. Notwithstanding those appeals Sri Lanka government continues its militarised approach to control the pandemic. Head of the COVID-19 prevention task force, Army commander Shavendra Silva was promoted as a four-star General in January 2021. He in turn appointed the coordinating officers Covid-19 prevention for all 25 districts, each of the units headed by a Major General. For the names & ranks of the Military coordinating officers appointed see here.
  16. After 18 months of military led prevention campaign, Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 situation is getting worse by the day. Almost every State hospital has exceeded maximum capacity, with record fatalities being reported each day.
  17. On 13th August Army Commander General Shavendra Silva stated that all persons over the age of 30 will be soon required to carry with them their vaccination cards when visiting public places. His statement becomes a law.
  18. An island wide quarantine curfew has been imposed from the 16th from 10 PM to 04 AM daily by a press statement issued by Army Commander Shavendra Silva.
  19. All medial professional associations including specialists, doctors, nurses and other health sector professionals have repeatedly called for a lock down, increased PCR testing and tracing to avoid the impending tragedy.
  20. On 15th August all political party leaders across the spectrum called for stringent preventive measures. The president is listening only to intelligence higherups not to the health professionals, Member of Parliament Eran W. claims in a video message.
  21. Government ministers are insisting that Sri Lanka needs money so they cannot lock down the country. Government has kept the schools and universities closed for nearly 18 months but kept all sectors related to economy, including congested apparel factories open.

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