Opinion

Blaming Indian nationals for the spread of Covid-19 needs to stop

Summary

The GOSL is endangering all that success by contributing to the fanning of communal mistrust and anti-India sentiments.

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The government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) has identified the first contacts that have contributed to the largest single cluster of the Covid-19 virus. According to the GOSL, 66 Indian nationals are the first contacts which has resulted in the spike of COVID-19 cases by 9,120.  

The total confirmed cases in the country is estimated at 16,000, as of November 14. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of the infections in Sri Lanka are the result of this one cluster.

The government has also identified the 66 Indian nationals as workers at a single construction site as well and have also released the name of the place where they are quarantined.

At the first glance, GOSL’s eagerness to go public with this information seems a responsible act designed to inform the public and to make the public aware.

But, is that all what’s behind GOSL’s release of the origin of the largest single covid-19 cluster in the country?

Prior to this cluster, the inception of the largest single outbreak was identified to an apparel factory. In that instance, the management was accused of complicity mainly because they had chartered three flights to bring in Sri Lankan workers at one of their factories in India. The company has been repeatedly accused of bringing Indian nationals to Sri Lanka in those flights in spite of the company’s denials and the lack of any credible evidence.

When GOSL releases infection numbers, it does not identify the infected by nationality. Well, GOSL did not until the birth of a cluster was identified to Indian passport holders. Is the health security of the average Sri Lankan increased by the government releasing the nationality of the infected?

No, it does not.

However, the release of the irrelevant information does offer an opportunity to those who harbor feelings of antipathy towards India to spread their feelings of mistrust. The GOSL has indulged in similar irresponsible behavior during the pandemic when it banned all burials, ostensibly based on proven science that suggested the virus multiply and transmit via corpses.

The GOSL clings on to their anti burial policy in spite of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring that there is no evidence linking the spread of Covid-19 to funeral burials.

Sri Lanka has been quite successful in containing the spread of the virus, in spite of recent spikes in numbers. A country of over 20 million containing the infection rate to less than 20,000 is by all means an achievement to be proud of.

The GOSL is endangering all that success by contributing to the fanning of communal mistrust and anti-India sentiments. It is short sighted, ignorant and dangerous.

The GOSL needs to stop playing politics in the midst of the greatest health crisis of modern times.

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