By Rusiripala Tennakoon –
A very serious situation is unfolding before us due to the new Surge of Covid spread across the country. We have been very complacent about the pandemic because of the mild manner how it afflicted us during its first phase, leaving behind a relatively relaxed social life. We ended up with large crowds of maskless people travelling to their homes in their villages in many outskirts of the country and practically sitting elbow to elbow celebrating the Sinhala and Hindu New Year.
Minister of Education was virtually threatening to open schools on specified dates. Many new dates were announced one after the other by him making the people feel that the threat of postponement was only temporary and not going to give rise to any serious situation in the foreseeable future. They remained closed nevertheless.
The social relaxations became more adverse due to the Tourism Bubbles that were blown now and then by the Tourism Sector including the Minister in charge coupled with the initiative role play by some highly influential, to open the doors to their foreign clients to freely travel and enjoy life here in a quite carefree manner with the blessings, patronage and mitigatory facilitations provided to their guests of honor.
Today we are collectively expiating for their sins as a country with things getting out of control. The officials are finding the demand for testing becoming more and more unmanageable and making it impossible for them to determine where the new pockets of disease are appearing. This worrisome situation was something we witnessed happening elsewhere, while we managed our affairs quite satisfactorily for some time.
Political interferences, unwarranted intermediations and poor planning with a total lack of foresight and assessment have contributed to the sordid state of affairs. Undue haste to display quick results in fields which could have continued with least activity safely for some more time have been unwisely mobilized with highly disadvantageous consequences. The increase in mortalities raises the need for hospitalization, in turn causing severe strains in the health care services, which already are handicapped with increasing needs for resources. The much-opposed lockdowns have started reappearing with alarming limitations in the social web due to inadequate life support to several in dire need for assistance.
The dilemma in the minds of policy makers apparently caused due to muddled health and economic objectives have worsened the situation. The belated actions now taken are more reflective of desperate reactions for emergency course corrections, rather than properly planned preventive pro-actions.
As a country which is not so adversely affected by severe whether conditions we could have easily managed to contain and maintain the status of the achievements gained during the first phase of the outbreak of the pandemic. Besides the lack of vigilance in the process during the ensuing period the failure to assess what made and where things have gone wrong, has worsened the seriousness.
We have miserably failed to give fair and reasonable attention and regard to observe how some other countries have done better. We note with regret how our diplomatic relations have failed to make any meaningful contribution in the soliciting of much needed assistance to meet the crisis. To make a long story short it would suffice to state that our President had to personally intervene in the field on his own in many instances to invoke international as well as the responses of individual countries ready to offer assistance. The lesson to learn is that at least after the crisis situation we have to revamp our Diplomatic relations frontier. Senior civilians with wide exposures who could pragmatically engage themselves on behalf of the motherland should replace most of the outdated diplomats chosen only because of other less important considerations.
All these point towards a highly dis-organized approach in the general affairs of the country marred with a ‘yes sir’ mentality. In the context I would like to recommend to eat the humble pie and take dressing from the right- hand marker (right dress) and correct the step. I thought in the context it would be prudent to listen to one of our own in a foreign country claiming a success story behind them in dealing with Covid 19 pandemic. Although it is not indicative of any panacea, the statement volunteered is worth examining even if it is not worthy of any emulation. I prefer to keep the identity confidential in the interest of the informant.
Quote.[verbatim with no change]
Covid-19 & The Vaccination In UAE
“It was in 2020 March people in UAE were advised about Covid-19 and immediately they started the sterilization program. They locked down area by area and started sterilizing even the main roads. Usually, during midnight all the roads being washed and we can see spotless clean roads in the morning. Not only the roads, the trees beside the roads even washed from top to bottom, The Vision of the Ruler in UAE is to make UAE a Green Country in 2025 and they work hard towards it. With sterilization, the country could control the spreading of the virus. There were few areas where bachelors live, got mostly affected and, had full 14 days locked down but distributed cooked food to all. No one was allowed to go out for any reason and nothing to worry about the food because the Government gave food free and controlled the spreading of the virus.
They had field hospitals to treat Covid Patients and were not allowed to visit any other hospital. Fifty years and above, and people with prolonged sicknesses such as diabetes can do PCR free of charge, drive-through. If the person got positive health authority will attache a digital GPS wristband to the patient where they can monitor the patient’s movements. Once the patient is negative only they will remove the wristband pointless the effort trying to remove it no one can do. Only the health authority could remove that wristband. In case the patient goes out from the premises with the wristband the authority will be notified automatically and take action against the person. In this country, rules are very strict and every person has to adhere to them.
Schools were closed immediately and still at a stretch for one and a half tears all children on online studies. The full school timetable is taken up. The whole country was locked down only for 15 days during the peak in 2020 April and then started opening the offices with minimum heads and others working from home. It was very strict children are not allowed to go inside any supermarket/ shopping center etc etc.,
Social distancing, face mask, face shield, hand sanitizing, steaming are still compulsory.
Time went on and the vaccine came up. First, the Government, Royal Family members, staff working in the Palace, front liners and, their family members were administered the vaccine. Then they started giving the vaccine to the public. All information is either informed through the daily newspaper or on the health authoritys’ website. For few months it was just walk-in, but the medical team checks the blood pressure and the pressure shouldn’t exceed 160/90. Once we get the first vaccine at the same time they reserve our second vaccine with our name and in just 21 days send sms to reminding the second vaccine date and time. By the time we come home we get another sms from the health authority to check any side effects are there from the vaccine. Same time you can get the antigen test and see how the antibodies increase.
Now the Government started administering the vaccine to ages 12 to 15 too. Once all the children are vaccinated hopefully they will open the schools physically. Being an ex-pat, there are no words to thank the UAE Government especially the Ruler His Excellency Shk. Mohammed Al Maktum leading the country towards prosperity. We don’t feel that we are ex-pats the way we are treated in this pandemic situation. This is called true leadership.”
I thought to my-self. Where are we? With no malice or any hard feelings towards our authorities, we can summarize the steps taken by UAE in tackling this menace not forgetting the fact that they too were hard hit worse than us before the dreadful attack. With almost all essentials imported including consumer items they have managed to take control of the situation. In perusing the above write up we observe a systematic pattern of planning, implementing and monitoring effectively carried out by UAE in facing this crisis.
1. Determination of the priorities. Sterilization program which has helped to arrest the spreading of the virus;
2. Decided the defining of areas to be brought under lock-down;
3. Looking after the welfare of the people subject to lock-down with provision of free food and announcing dedicated hospitals that would attend their specific health needs;
4. Facilitation of PCR testing including free of charge testing for deserving special categories covering people with prolonged sicknesses;
5. Those identified as positive cases were subject to strict mobile restrictions with GPS wrist bands attached to monitor the movements;
6. Schools were closed immediately with online coverages of full school syllabuses under a time table;
7. During the peak the entire country was locked down for 15 days;
8. When offices were re-opened they were made to arrange for minimum numbers to attend physically while the others were made to work from homes;
9. Children were completely shut out from public places;
10. A continued program of making face masks, face shields, hand sanitizing compulsory while other health habits such as steam inhalation too were made virtually essential;
11. When the vaccines were developed a strictly planned operation was carried out to cover the public following the careful identification (publicly announced) of priority categories (front liners).
12. The vaccination program was a perfect health-wise administration with individual checking of the recipients’ BP etc. and with fixed dates for the second shots to be administered on individual notifications;
13. There has been follow up monitoring of persons receiving the vaccines to check the after effects;
14. They have started vaccinating children between 12-15 now and the schools are to be opened after the completion of the vaccination program;
No doubt UAE economy was strong enough to bear the burden of such a meticulous operation. But more than anything else they were organized, well planned and responsibilities given to those who should handle the tasks.
This may sound and appear queer to many who advocate myths offering charmed pots and divine honeys prepared by unscrupulous characters to their amaurotic supporters. No doubt that those engaged in such witch crafts are well aware whose interests they are serving because it is those that bring them to the forefront to take care of their destinies as the custodians. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the gravity of the situation and the risk that all of us are exposed to as humans for some to play around naively. We are all far-far away from reality and made to live in anticipation than the realization of our legitimate expectations!