22 September, 2020

Blog

Corona, What Did We Get Right & Where Did We Go Wrong? – Some Questions For The DGHS

By M.M. Janapriya

Dr. M.M. Janapriya

Introduction

The whole world, young and old, rich and poor, powerful and powerless, religious and nonreligious, atheists and polytheists no matter what, have been pushed against a massive brick wall by this intensely infectious and incomparably virulent virus that seems to hoodwink it’s victims, virtually knocking on deaths door, believe all is well by virtue of its ingenious ability produce `happy hypoxia’. To put those of you not in to any medical science in the picture, our blood is nearly 100% saturated with oxygen in health. When the levels are below 70% one is in grave danger of dying in the next couple of hours or in some cases, in the few minutes if not corrected urgently. Those with Covid-19 keep `pecking on their cell phones whilst the oximeter connected to them is reading 50%’. Such is the enigma of this invisible killer. 

Whether it jumped from bats cats or rats to humans is now irrelevant but whether the Chinese played it down for close to or indeed over a month with or without the help of the W(h)orl(e)d Health Organization though of utmost importance should be pushed to the back burner for the present as in `Sama Jathakaya’ where Buddha impressed upon his disciples the importance of attending to the injured prince than trying to find out from which direction the arrow came. So here we are trying to do our best to keep the deadly virus away.

As I have pointed out in my last article those countries that were ready and waiting like, Germany, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Communist Vietnam being quick responders are having good outcomes whereas Corona sceptics like the US and the UK have had devastating consequences of their actions. This is not a time to play the blame game. While congratulating the victors and commiserating and empathizing with the countries struggling to keep their heads above water as per numbers dead, I feel it is time opportune for us as a country with the most stringent of lockdowns, in 4 highly populated districts spanning over 7 weeks, to sit back and appraise where we have done well, what we have got wrong and indeed what we can do to mitigate the damage so caused. 

I have been studying the subject of SARS COV-2 virus ever since the curse befell our world and also have been writing about what I felt as to the progress or regress of the measures Sri Lanka has taken as the Corona events kept unfolding before us. As such I envisage referring to the series of articles I have written in chronological order to substantiate my fears and ecstasies.   

The Lockdown

In my first article ever on Corona dated 17th March I urged for a complete lockdown because at that time I saw the country as a sleep walker heading towards the cliff edge. Here is the link for that article.  A considerable number of returnees from badly affected countries abound in a country devoid of resources and discipline, the corona figures appeared too good to be true. Sri Lanka too was slightly late in bringing on strictures like Airport closure and even the lockdown but still managed to keep number infected down as well as percentage mortality at well below the WHO declared epidemiologically established figures. As a man who wants to know the scientific basis of practically everything, I was always in pursuit of the truth but I made myself believe the figures published by the health authorities that came out every day on 10`O’ clock news were indeed authentic.   

Second Wave?

Being an investigator in to medical illness, I needed to dispel my own fears of figures falling short of being genuine, I started to wonder as to how to explain these figures with an open mind and came out with my second article. Therein I put forward the hypothesis that by Dec 2019/January 2020 we have already had the first wave of corona and hence were partially immune. This partial immunity and hot weather I felt were the key reasons the virus failed to hit us as hard as it hit some of the western world. In this essay, I praised the government for all the action it had taken up to that point in time to keep the SARS COV-2 infection at bay. Here is the link to my second article dated 21st March 2020. In this article I suggested doing some random samples of 1000 subjects from different parts of the country for SARS COV-2 antibodies which would have told us and the Presidential Task Force if we indeed have already had the first wave coming our way. However this did not happen probably because the members of the Presidential Task Force lacked the knowledge required to comprehend what was said and assimilate in to their systems the importance of the information so disseminated. 

Disinformation Exposed

While the country was in lockdown there seemed to be a lull period of about a week and a bit in which quit a few so called experts appeared on TV channels some seriously believing they were educating the public. One such person was the life president of the most Gullible Medical Officers Association and a vociferous medical member of the Presidential Task Force who tried to use the Corona platform as a springboard to launch his future political campaign. He instituted a staunch disinformation campaign grandstanding as one of the key members of a successful Task Force that has started not just to plateau the curve but would eventually be completely crunching it. I exposed this poor soul who appeared he knew not what he did, in my next article dated 1st April 2020 titled Downright Disinformation…….. and the link is this. In most of my articles I have praised the government on the containment measures it had adopted and this article was no exception. Also frequently, I have emphasized the importance of maintaining health departmental transparency in order to win public confidence and compliance.

Lethargy during the Lockdown

With the kitchen sink thrown at the Corona virus by imposing a police curfew it appeared to me that the authorities quickly embraced the angel of somnolence which was very concerning because lockdown only `buys time’ till either a) those countries with precarious health care facilities could better their fronts b) a medicine is discovered that cures corona or modifies its course to a milder version or indeed c) a vaccine becomes available that accords immunity to the masses. Professor Devi Sridhar, Chair of Global Public Health, University of Edinburgh who has written extensively on the subject of Covid-19 describes what lockdowns should be used for in one of her articles titled ‘The lockdown only buys time: to really defeat the virus we need mass testing nowThis is the link for the article. She is an extraordinarily clever woman who is an ultimate authority on global public health and predicted this pandemic 2 years ago at a meeting in Wales and still Bojo went bonkers on the subject! Starving amidst plenty!

A plea for More Tests

As I was very alarmed at the `apparent inactivity’ of the health task force in not going after the virus during the time `borrowed’ by the lock down, I wrote my fourth article titled Lockdown 3 weeks and reappraise, did I say? What next? Test, Test and Test! In here I tried to drive home the point that just waiting for patients to come through the door and finding their contacts and may be their next layer of contacts and isolating them was not sufficient action to get on top of the virus and that it was necessary to actively go after the virus by doing at least 5000 tests/day preferably 10,000 in order to catch the asymptomatic patients carrying the virus who were the biggest threat to the society. Even though the number of tests gradually increased to the present number of 1500-1800 tests/day, this is an apology for a proper scheme genuinely searching for subclinical sufferers. It was in the wee hours of the morning of 3rd April 2020 that I wrote this article almost in a haste wanting to write a more comprehensive essay on exiting the lock down in a few days’ time. Here is the link to my 4th article. It is very unfortunate that the task force failed to ramp up the testing to the realistic numbers as I had suggested. Is it because they felt that military intelligence is equally or more effective than rRT-PCR in catching the multilayer of contacts? There is absolutely no doubt that the former comes with no added cost to the government. I am not sure whether having the cake and eating it of buying the horse for a penny and wanting it to win the steeple chase is the better proverb for this. 

Defending the Figures

A few days later an article purported to have been written by a gentleman calling himself Janaka Goonatilake appeared in the Colombo Telegraph. By and large the figures he had produced were accurate enough though interpretation of some of these figures was lopsided. Reading through it was clear to me that he was trying to drag the government through mud. As the Corona Task Force seemed to be doing its job extremely well at that time I felt deeply committed to write on behalf of the government and my fifth article was the culmination of this commitment. Point by point I argued out how wrong the writer was and tried to extricate the government from blame. Here is that article dated 10th April 2020.

Attempted Exit from Lockdown

In order to ‘alleviate the suffering’ of the people living in areas under the police curfew and also to let the wheels of the economy turning again the Government set an arbitrary date of relaxing the lockdown for the 20th April 2020. There were guidelines issued by the DGHS to various ministries as to how to ease the lock down. These guidelines appeared to have been drawn up in a haste and lacked far sight in many areas. I think the President was pressurized to consider this move by the six Professors of Medicine who wrote a joint letter to the former about the importance of the exit and how to set about it. This bit of work to me appeared hastily done and lacked mastery in methodology, detail and accuracy. To be honest the country was not ready for the easing of the lockdown at that time. Fortunately this unpreparedness manifested in the form of 17 new corona cases being discovered on the 19th April 2020 that did clear the wool off the eyes of the powers that be and the lockdown stayed in place for the badly affected districts of Colombo Gampaha Kalutara and Puttalam district where the police curfew is still on. Thank goodness for that. 

Testing could be better

If the planned easing went off it would have been a disaster as we had not ramped up our testing numbers. This prompted me to write my article number six dated 21st April 2020 titled ‘Let us not leap but tread our way out of the lockdown‘ and here is the link for that. I impressed upon the health authorities and the powers that be, the dire need for a strong testing tracing and isolating program before the lockdown could be eased. For this I brought in examples from many countries that have done well such as Germany, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. I also showed that these countries were testing very large numbers per day to keep the virus at bay. I am sure those of you who read this article of mine would remember the following table. This was as of around the 20th April 2020, i.e. less than 3 weeks ago and our testing was at an unacceptably low level of 0.21/1000 population whereas Germany was testing 21/1000, South Korea 10.4/1000 and Singapore 8/1000 population.

Just to put it in perspective Germany was testing 100 times, South Korea 50 times and Singapore 38 times what we were doing in Sri Lanka. This was a recipe for disaster that was waiting to happen which eventually did happen.

Nasty Navy News

A navy sailor holidaying at home in Polonnaruwa tested positive for Corona on the 23rd April 2020. He had gone home from the Welisara camp crossing borders. With this man so many other navy sailors had been allowed to return home. Another navy sailor contact of the former from Panduwasnuwara was admitted to the Kurunegala Hospital the same day. It was alleged that those who got the disease were the ones who wrestled with the uncooperative drug addicts from Suduwella in Ja-Ela on the 10th of April or so. Watch Ada Derana News on the clip between 2.55 and 5.30 minutes. It was only at this point that the task force decided to up the test numbers significantly.(same video 9.05-1014 minutes). The rendezvous the Polonnaruwa navy sailor has done on route home is incredibly tortuous and he sure infected a large number on route. This is the link to see the rendezvous. (Watch between 4.47-6.15 minutes). The fact that this incident gave rise to a cluster of several hundred inside the camp is no secret. Same news channel declared that more navy sailors with the virus were found in Ratnapura, Kurunegala Badulla and Dambulla (1.00-1.15 minutes) 

As one can see clearly the creation of this `cluster’ of navy sailors at Welisara and a large number they may have infected on their rounds appears to be a case of the health authorities `taking their eye off the ball’. In relation to this the task force and the rank and file had to do a great deal of contact tracing, and isolating which in my opinion looks to have been eminently avoidable. I will reserve my questions on this to the DGHS to the end of my article. 

Positive or Negative?

Few days went by with navy numbers rising exponentially and a few others trickling in to up the infected numbers whilst the number dead remained fairly constant. It was on the 5th May 2020 that we were told over the news that 2 quite unrelated patients had sprung up from Kolonnawa and Rajagiriya whilst a special grade nursing officer from the National Hospital Colombo also had tested positive for the virus. This was concerning as, if proven to be authentic, this would have meant community spread if these people could not be associated with any of the known clusters. Ada Derana News 5th May 2020. (watch 4.00-5.25 minutes). In order to maintain the spread only at cluster level it was necessary to either establish a connection with one of the clusters or indeed prove the reports wrong. Lo and behold DGHS came on TV together with 3 other specialists and reiterated that the reports of the said patients were indeed wrong and on retesting they were found not to have the virus! Ada Derana news 6th May 2020. (watch between 4.44-5.59 minutes). Though the DGHS was straight faced, the other three had guilt written all over their faces.

Dark clouds over news briefings 

Where does this take us to from here? Up until the navy cluster cropped up the Task Force for Corona control was up to the task and from then on things seem to have gone pear shaped. Navy debacle is a disaster of the highest grade and a big blunder on the part of the whole team. I am posing some very important and pertinent  questions to the DGHS on these two matters and I request him to answer these questions clearly and in simple language for the general public to understand and also for me personally to be able to keep the trust I always had in his  department in particular and the government in general.

The Great Navy Debacle

1) Do you think the Navy sailors who wrestled with the Suduwella drug addicts in order to arrest them should have been quarantined for the usual length of time?

2) Even though the Army Commander says they were indeed quarantined most of them did not complete even 14 days (let alone 28) at the time they were allowed to go away on holiday because the Suduwella incident took place around the 10th April and the first man got away before the 20th April. Do you agree?

3) Did you as the DGHS or the Army boss as the head of the task force release them to go home?

4) If the latter did, did he get your approval?

5) I personally think all those who were going to be released to cross the borders (of districts) should have been subjected to rRT-PCR testing on 3 consecutive days before being released. Do you agree?

6) Judging by the speed of spread within the Welisara camp there is a good chance that the sailors who grappled with the drug addicts were never separated from the rest of the camp. Do you agree?

7) If answer to 6 is No how do you explain the wildfire kind of spread in the camp and from where they got the virus?

8) Do you agree that this scenario is gross negligence on the part of the Presidential Task Force that has actually led to Community Spread?

9) Do you agree on this debacle some heads should roll?

Positives that became Negative in 24 hours

1) The television news of Ada Derana 5th May 2020 was categorical and showed no doubt whatsoever when it said the Rajagiriya found and the Senior Nursing Officer NHSL were positive for corona virus. Do you agree?

2) Do you agree a large number of contacts of these people were taken away to be quarantined?

3) Do you agree that if the Rajagiriya, Kolonnawa and the NHSL cases remained positive you would have had to find a strong association with one of the many clusters in order to maintain your position of `No Community Spread Yet’ and that would have proven an uphill task? 

4) Out of 700 odd positive cases so far exactly these three cases had to be retested for `oona aasaadanaya’ which is extremely odd. Do you agree?

5) By `oona aasaadanaya’ you mean weakly positive. Is that correct?

6) You are talking about a protocol that you adhered to in these three cases that included retesting. Can you please make this protocol public for all to see?

7) Weak positives are usually seen in serological tests like the SAT for Typhoid, Wassermann Test for Syphilis etc. Do you agree?

8) Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) involves generating Billions of DNA (or cDNA in RNA viruses such as SARS COV-2) from a trace of viral RNA or DNA which is a huge number of virus particles and hence weak positives are quite rare. Do you agree?

9) Dealing with a deadly virus such as the SARS COV-2 it is best to err on the side of accepting the test as positive rather than retest to prove negativity and send the patients home. Do you agree?

10) Do you agree that even though the sensitivity of the PCR test is between 65-80% the specificity is 100% and therefore it is foolish to repeat the test in rare weakly positive cases and send patients home?

11) The public would like to know what you did with the contacts of these people whom you took to quarantine. Are they still in or out?

12) Do you agree this saga appears to be a last ditch attempt to dispel fears of probable community spread?    

I honestly hope and pray that you would be able to prove me wrong because I am hell bent in retaining my trust in your department and the specific task force.

Just to recapitulate from my previous article this is what population in successful Germany thought about their government’s honesty and transparency.  

Beyond mass testing and the preparedness of the health care system, many also see Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership as one reason the fatality rate has been kept low.

Ms. Merkel, a trained scientist, has communicated clearly, calmly and regularly throughout the crisis, as she imposed ever-stricter social distancing measures on the country. The restrictions, which have been crucial to slowing the spread of the pandemic, met with little political opposition and are broadly followed.

The chancellor’s approval ratings have soared.

“Maybe our biggest strength in Germany,” said Professor Kräusslich, “is the rational decision-making at the highest level of government combined with the trust the government enjoys in the population.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    Doc, I did read all your articles with interest and write some comments too. I mostly agreed with your views except for few which unfortunately outdo the rest. That is “how politics intervenes with every crucial decision and outcome in Lanka”, including in such natural disasters and pandemics , just as in wars and resurrections. It is unfortunate but true. We are not alone because right now politics is being played in many other countries , especially in USA where Trump is overtly displaying it. If you had been reading my comments I am sure you would have encountered one where I mentioned Lankans will eventually step out of Covid just in time to step into a much larger pandemic, caused by Human Virus , for which there is no such treatment available. As a medical personal , who also have lived and experienced the dark political history and its impact on people for years, I have no doubts the politicians are exploiting this human tragedy/ miseries , for their election gains. It is POLITICS first and Pandemic next. This should neither come as a shock or even a surprise, because it was in practice during Tsunami, wars and even after Easter. (to continue)

    • 1
      1

      To assess whether Sri Lanka got it right, you have to compare it with UK and USA where they got it all wrong. To assess whether Sri Lanka got it wrong, you have to compare it with New Zealand and Taiwan where they got it all right. This disease started in China and not in Sri Lanka. Therefore the first thing that should have been done is to close the borders for foreigners and locals arriving should be quarantined. UK and USA did not do it because of wrong advice of WHO, while NZ and Taiwan did not take WHO seriously and closed it. Sri Lanka did not close the borders in time till children and loved ones from China brought back. In this gap, locals from Italy as well as pilgrims from India slipped in without being quarantined. Chinese labour returning after new year were exempted from being quarantine. Secondly wearing of masks were not followed by UK and USA on WHO advice, but NZ and Taiwan ignored WHO and made it compulsory for people to wear a mask. Sri Lanka in this aspect did it correctly such as social distancing, wearing of masks etc. Tracing and isolation of contacts was done vigouruosly. You cannot find fault with a poor country like Sri Lanka for not being able to test large numbers due to the cost and non-availability of test kits in the market. Had they taken measures to control returnees from Italy and from Muslim religious events in India and Indonesia, disease would not have spread. Even in the case of Tamil pastor, something fishy has happened, because despite having fever, he was given police escort for the event in Jaffna. Therefore all in all Sri Lanka had done passably in prevention aspect. (CONTD)

      • 1
        1

        As for treatment, I feel that Sri Lanka has got it spot on. The low death rate may be due to a strain different from Europe or America, but they were on the correct track. While Europe and America are battling with ventilators, unable to prevent death, Sri Lanka had hardly used ventilators. One has to find out why is this discrepancy. This virus in most of the cases behave like an ordinary flu and will require, paracetamol and hot fluids. In others it is causing problems due to immune system overacting and producing chemicals. We are told that the virus is air borne and enters through nose or mouth and attaches itself to cells along respiratory passage. So the first line of action is to prevent this attachment. There is one drug which could do it, which is cheap and widely used for other conditions, viz hydroxy-chloroquine. Unfortunately US president jumped the queue and promoted it as the cure for Corona virus, which others did not want him to take the credit and downplayed the importance. I heard that health authorities in Sri Lanka ignored scare mongering of those people and started giving it to patients moment they are tested positive. This should be done within five to ten days of the illness and not after fourteen days. At this stage you may need a smaller dose like that for Malaria.

        • 1
          1

          (CONTD). What happened in Europe and America is that they waited for a longer time and gave patients larger doses of Hydroxy-Chloroquine which caused toxic reactions and even death, and promptly it was condemned. Once virus is prevented from attaching to cells, no further complications will occur. Instead of taking this approach, those countries are battling with complications resulting in large casualty. Therefore all in all, Sri Lanka has done remarkably in treatment aspect. Over reaction of immune system is producing chemicals which are causing these problems. There is a drug which is specially made to counter these chemicals which is TOCILIZUMAB. It is very expensive, but worth the money spent.

      • 3
        0

        There is a place very near Sri Lanka which has done much better at Covid-19 control than SL. It is Kerala in India. The infections are 550 with 5 deaths. The lockdown is less stringent than here, with food shops open but precautions in place. There are many more returning migrant workers.
        Kerala is slightly larger than SL with a little bigger population. The climate is the same. So all those factors can be ruled out. Is the key factor the education levels of those decision makers in power? It is much higher in Kerala.

        • 0
          0

          OC
          I saw this on “https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/14/the-coronavirus-slayer-how-keralas-rock-star-health-minister-helped-save-it-from-covid-19”
          How has this been achieved? Three days after reading about the new virus in China, and before Kerala had its first case of Covid-19, Shailaja held the first meeting of her rapid response team. The next day, 24 January, the team set up a control room and instructed the medical officers in Kerala’s 14 districts to do the same at their level. By the time the first case arrived, on 27 January, via a plane from Wuhan, the state had already adopted the World Health Organization’s protocol of test, trace, isolate and support.
          ….
          … On 23 March, all flights into the state’s four international airports were stopped. Two days later, India entered a nationwide lockdown.”
          There is much in the middle if you are interested.
          *
          (ps. It may upset some people to know that Kerala still has the Left alliance in power.)

  • 6
    2

    I am deeply sceptical of the information provided by our authorities , for which I will provide some incidents as examples. 1)There are few cases who were in contact died of acute Pneumonia or respiratory illness who were never tested or even considered as Covid related. If such cases are not tested then who are being tested right now in Lanka, patients with Urinary tract infection ???2) Yesterday govt claim 13 cases were false POSITIVE (take note not one or two), who were tested in various reputed sites. Upto now worldwide false NEGATIVE has been a real headache in controlling and never POSITIVE, that too in that many numbers to claim in a single day ???. Isnt it a medical miracle ????? 3) Please see Tisaranee,s article for this, you may not agree with all what she says but the point I will like to stress is not many countries have used the military in charge of Covid control and less of medical personal (if at all none, except like GMOA that too guest appearance role in public shows). I know Lankans will come up with plenty excuses to explain such malady, but it is crystal clear what the govt is up to and their real agenda behind this exercise.

  • 0
    0

    What is right now happening in Lanka is “of course getting Covid under control but according to politicians time line” and that has a clear end date so that their political agenda could move on (Lanka can wait ) with out any delay. Here is my counter argument for my above comments. In my experience, for politicians ,Lanka is definitely a country like no other where any thing is possible. Simple example is Dr. Shaffi. People may say it has nothing to do with Covid, but I say it has every thing to do. Yesterday Dr. Weerabandara was transferred out of Kurunegala teaching hospital , because of his alleged (by GMOA ????) mismanagement of COVID. Doc , Lanka is a country where what is nearly (medically ) impossible was proved possible by Rajapaksas, followers, Weerabandara (the master of the SHAM),other doctors ( jealous and racist colleagues),nursing, public litigants(took bribe to lie), judiciary, media (who played the role of judiciary) , monks, GMOA/SLMC (who conveniently kept silent) and the rest saw to that , the innocent doctor charged and thrown behind bars. If thousands of sterilizations by clamping during surgery is possible, then I realize pretty much anything is possible in our shithole including such pandemic numbers.

    • 0
      0

      C
      You are mixing poorly connected issues.
      *
      COVID-19 spread has been low despite mismanagement in this ‘shithole’ while the well managed shitholes that you admire struggle to come to terms with it.
      Distortion of data by an order of magnitude is difficult these days. Even gossip has not emerged too boost infections and deaths.
      There were three cock-ups: the first almost trivial with infections rounding off at 20+, the next a little bad letting it rise to 120 + and the last taking it close to 1000 or slightly more.
      If the plan was to suppress data, how did these increases readily come to light?
      *
      There is serious racialism among the Sinhalese but not far more than among Tamils and Muslims. I am not defending any of it.
      Occasional soul searching will help us gain a sober view of reality.

  • 3
    0

    Maybe our biggest strength in Germany,” said Professor Kräusslich, “is the rational decision-making at the highest level of government combined with the trust the government enjoys in the population.”

    Can we have rational decision making by War Criminals and robbers who hell bent on making money for themselves

    Poor DGHS who should have been the head of task force has to get directions from a War Criminal who molested a ministers daughter and got away with it

    • 0
      0

      Dear Dilshan,
      .
      that has lot do with our people, culture and various other factors.
      :
      In Germany or any other european country, they would not want their triforces to do the job of their health ministries. But our govt chose it, because that is the only option for them. Yet today, Leadership is far from being unable to differentiate GMOA men from the epidemiologists and specialists in COMMUNITY disease/control. Awarness programs for the people are not well set. If the govt reacted going by the guidelines given by WHO, we as an another ISLAND nation, could easily settle it.
      :
      And the manner the govt did not realize to go for more tests is beyond my understanding. Even if Vietnam, Nepal, Venezula and the like minded countries performed tests regardless of their financial burdens. Many countries that incresed the number of tests have acheived good results.

      Our bastards did not have wholeheartedness to succeed it. Had they closed down BIA as of early March, we could become a model nation to have controlled the virual infections. But their kind of media displays seem to be fooling around, letting their self adulation machines to work round the clock.

      Rajapakshes have proved once again, that they have failed it. People should open their eyes, let alone today.

  • 1
    0

    Sri Lanka needs a pool of people with Covid-19 antibodies to function in the airport and transfer of people to the quarantine centers. The availability of the Navy personal is indeed a blessing in disguise. It is likely that the entire camp would have acquired Herd Immunity, which is another benefit. Practically all the countries are now opening their economies and the number of infections in USA, Italy, Spain, France and Germany is coming down, contrary to the predictions of lockdown specialists. What is required is the balance between the ability of the health service to cater to the Covid patient, keep the deaths low, which we have achieved and sufficient number of people with antibodies to function effectively in a Covid-19 Pandemic.

  • 3
    0

    Lankas current number reads 800 infected, in that 400 are Navy Personal who were supposedly tracing a few “infected drug abusers” but miraculously non military people who in turn infected by such Navy victims are less than 10, the death rate remains static at single digit. Doc, can any right minded medical personal explain these figures to our public. The fact is, regardless of this pandemic, come what may, Rajapaksas election plans will be executed. This can be possible only if military is send out there to fight the virus as in “war situation”. (covid report is treated as in intelligence report) .From reports it is apparent military, bureaucrats,GMOA, media,medical people who give their expert opinions and last but not least WHO (indirectly keeps giving booster statements like GMOA , but never commit on having an election) are all working tirelessly to get Covid under control according to Rajapaksas time line. It is just like how Trump and republicans are trying to open economy right now, at what ever cost to win the elections. Finally the lesson I learned is,only in a country like Lanka (a land like no other) such adversarial situations can be turned beneficial, to such politicians, who could plan and execute such covert actions.

  • 4
    0

    By the time I finished by lengthy comments and decided to take a break, saw the news yet another military personal is today nominated as the new “HEALTH SEC”. Very soon there will be only military personals in charge of whole health sector and govt doctors may have to look for administrative jobs else where, may be in Tri Forces “????

  • 4
    2

    The problem with this doctor’s writing is that he keep promoting his previous articles [5 now he keeps telling us], and gets lost in a conceited state of infallibility. Anybody following the news will have a nodding acquaintance of all the science and news he brings together and grandly presents as if original thinking. Everyone agrees more testing is needed, everyone agrees the government’s Covid tally is flawed and falls short. Nothing new there. Perhaps he needs to shorten his outpourings and get to the point quicker, criticize more those that need criticism, and stop repeatedly patting the government on the back. The doctor should know you can end up with a bad case of Tennis Elbow doing that.

  • 0
    0

    A chain is strong as it’s weakest link. Despite the draconian curfew, the weakest link was those who were exposed to the virus, such as, health workers & the military entrusted to rounding up those infected, not being tested regularly & even allowing them to return to their homes outside the curfew zone. Didn’t the task force foresee that simple error? Apparently, only those around the President & PM were being tested daily, not those on the front line who had the potential to catch the virus. While the entire world decided to test, locate & quarantine those affected, SL was way behind in testing but takes credit for doing a better job than even developed countries, thanks to the leadership of GR & his military. After all, statistics say it all but there are other countries in the region where there had been no deaths at all, even without a military enforcing a curfew. Coincidence, incorrect reporting or what?

    The military is brought in at times of crisis, mainly, to assist in logistics & other emergency measures, such as, temporary shelters, medical camps, distribution of aid, etc.,which it is geared to handle but the fact that the entire COVID operation under a military commander with no expertise on the subject does raise questions. Were epidemiologists & virologists not given more prominence? Seems GR has more faith in his buddies to handle the crisis with ‘military precision’ than civilian scientists, apart from the fact the GMOA hi-jacking the situation for scoring brownie points. As for heads to roll, Doc, we all know that such things don’t happen in SL, it’s the land for opportunists & cronies to thrive.

  • 4
    0

    The good old Doc studiously avoids being critical of the way in which the Govt: is handling the issue of the Covid-19.
    But lets be frank Doc.
    What is your opinion on a General being entrusted with the task of beating a viral epidemic?
    Just today another Army man takes over as Secy: Health; Another first for Srilanka.

    People who should lead are playing second fiddle.
    Nero is also fiddling conjuring up dreams of becoming the Emperor!

  • 4
    0

    In a land like no other, the protocols adopted by mature, advanced societies in managing a contingency like a pandemic do not apply. What matters more is scoring points, grandstanding, maintaining the status of rank or position in relation to mere mortals and a performance of smoke and mirrors to confound and disorient a largely gullible populace that will again deliver a long stint at the trough of public funds where the swine can slurp at will, possibly for generations to come. The miracle of Asia indeed..!

    • 2
      0

      LP
      Interesting that there is another land like no other called the United States of America to which much of what you say will apply.
      Its methods have some subtlety but substance is same.

  • 0
    0

    Aye! Doc! Incidentally the acronym of the organization you describe as Gullible Medical Officers Association too is GMOA and it is incidental long years ago one Dr. M. M. Janapriya was the President of the one and only GMOA, coincidental to the name of the author of this article. That Doctor M. M. Janapriya was poles apart from the current leadership. We know, in the Sri Lankan context, what is done in the IDH is to administer steam mixed with aroma of some leaves and other oriental dietary supplements. All those who died had a history of issues such as obesity, diabetes, kidney issues, breathing problems such as asthma etc. Latterly the DGHS announced that no patient was in the ICU. With the exception of high risk category of patients don’t you think doctor what we need is Infectious Diseases Nursing Homes following the same regimen of IDH and not Infectious Diseases Hospitals for the infected? I would value your response Doctor.

  • 0
    0

    The simpler the answer, the better:
    .
    We collectively got it wrong by entrusting the country to a military man, who has now shown himself not only incompetent to fight a virus, but thinking in his military way that he victory must come.
    .
    Gota was allowed to think that he’s a genius; now we have no way of controlling him.
    .
    Despite so many now realising this, why can’t we act? Because we Sinhalese are fatalistic. We will stick with the wrong choice that we made. If a minority guy challenges – the Sinhalese will unite to make sure that we protect majority rights.
    .
    But this will end – owing to the sudden collapse of the economy. The virus will spread, irrespective of what we do. Some will survive – but much impovershed. Who will survive – no idea.

  • 0
    0

    SJ, for your comment the reply is right below in numbers and Lasantha too has answered. Now you may be one of those who prefer either to be in denial or naive. But that is up to you to figure it out. Old Codger you are right about Kerala, because I lived and experienced to vouch for it.(they also have system in place by successfully controlling Nipah just last year). Finally I will give my own experience from where I live right now. Like many I too was frantic and tried learning everything possible about the spread and seriousness. For almost two months the authority claimed ZERO case in our district which many sceptical doctors outright rejected. Just few weeks ago a patient admitted in a hospital DIED ,(just walking distance from where I live)who was reported as the first Covid positive. Within days 40 more cases were reported, out which more than five died. Yet with all the testing and tracing the authority has not figured the primary source. Hospital is currently shut down for quarantine and few of the staff are infected too. In India to reach 10,000 it took almost months but now , it takes less than five days. SJ, before you comment look at your numbers (my comment right below) and when you figure out let us know.

  • 0
    0

    SJ, one thing I noticed, anywhere in my comments I have NOT mentioned China or how good USA (you seems to be having issue buddy , not me) has managed. But you some how managed to use your stale anti west/US excuse to counter my comment. Whether you agree or not Lanka in my opinion is a shit hole, whether there are more out there is for those people to figure out. I reiterate, one more time, I am not for “either you are with us if not you are against us”.You did not provide one bit of information to challenge my observation. About distortion and gossip my comment on Dr.Shaffi is the answer for it. Like you, I too firmly believe it is difficult to hide mass death. But dude it is you who live in the land like no other, where what is medically impossible was proven otherwise by politicians, doctors, GMOA/SLMC,judiciary,monks___. If you dont trust me on this please ask your family doctor next time you visit or simply google there is plenty on this subject. (sterilization of thousands by clamping , MY FOOT).

  • 0
    0

    Doc, amidst pandemic , there are few things our govt got it right. Let me list it 1) Got a convicted murderer pardoned and released 2)trying to get few innocent like Shafi, Hizbullah convicted for election gains 3)replacing the whole public health administration with war time strategist 4)passing a illegal curfew for covert activities 5)come what may force a SHAM called election 6)make election campaign into relief plans 6) politics first and pandemic next 7)self appreciation through fake media and statements. 8) not yet but soon anticipated are brothers showering each other with some mega titles such as “savior of country”, Avengers of a different kind, super man MR, iron man GR,caption Lankawe for BR/CR . Doc you too can suggest. As a consolation for SJ, Trump too had tried all of the above. Anything more he may add.

    • 0
      0

      C
      I am not sure which comment your response is to.
      I did comment that you were mixing rather unrelated issues. (No mention of China). It was mainly about numbers that you disputed, and the argument was based on simple reasoning.
      *
      As for the aside, “COVID-19 spread has been low despite mismanagement in this ‘shithole’ while the well managed shitholes that you admire struggle to come to terms with it”, I am more than a little tired with your constant reference to this country as a shithole. You repeatedly compare this country most negatively with the West.
      *
      If you do not admire them, I will delete the phrase “that you admire “. But if this country is a shit hole to any, the US is one to the many who suffer racial and class oppression there.
      *
      I wrote only on 13th & 14th and you claim that Lasantha has answered. But Lasantha’s text is dated 12th to which I responded on 13th.
      *
      I commented extensively on the pathetic defence of the US and UK by someone who unusually has not responded. Does it bother you?
      *
      BTW, there is nothing stale about anti-imperialism but for those who defend imperialism or are blind to it.
      Anti-imperialism is central to the liberation of humanity, including the subjects of the USA.
      Americans deserve better than the string of governments that have been at war with the world now for more than 70 years. (Did you find time to read Blum?)
      *
      To relax, watch “Once Upon a Virus” accessible at
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5BZ09iNdvo

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.