A deadly series of blunders

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My dear Delta,

I thought I should write to you as you have invaded us like no one has ever before and are claiming the lives of dozens of people on a daily basis – and we are told the worst is yet to come. We in Paradise have been through tsunamis and wars but nothing has affected us this much.

You had your origins in India, when you mutated from the original coronavirus to become deadlier because you went from person to person much more easily. As a result, thousands were infected very rapidly and like most things that originate in India, you quickly made your way over here to Paradise.

At that time, we saw photos from India showing people gasping for breath and dying because they had no access to oxygen. We thought we were relatively safe and that we would be spared of your effects. In fact, there were those who said ‘api thamai hondatama keruwe’ or ‘we did it the best’.

In fact, there was a time when we could have truthfully said that we managed the pandemic the best. That was around this time, last year. While thousands were dying in so-called ‘developed’ countries we had managed to contain and control the pandemic. Infections were few and deaths were even less.

Medical experts recommended a long ‘lockdown’. At that time, that advice was readily accepted.  It meant that the all-important general elections had to be postponed not once but twice. Nevertheless, we fared much better than most countries, despite having a healthcare system with lesser resources.

Then, something went wrong. Maybe we became complacent. Maybe we thought we had defeated you. So, instead of focusing our efforts on securing enough vaccines to beat you, we began relying on sprinkling ‘holy water’ into rivers and producing ‘peni’ – and even ministers readily endorsed them!

Around the same time, it appears as if controlling the pandemic changed hands from medical experts to the military. Whether that was because, by that time, the election was in the bag and therefore there wasn’t that much of a need to worry about how many got infected and how many died, I don’t know.

So, some silly decisions were made. We allowed Ukrainian tourists into Paradise, so cousin Udayanga could make a few dollars which would have covered some of his legal fees. When the virus began spreading, we pretended it didn’t, calling them clusters confined to Minuwangoda and Peliyagoda.

There were plenty of blunders in rolling out the vaccine. At first, you had to be somebody’s somebody to get access to a vaccine. Then, somebody forgot to do his arithmetic and divide the number of Astra Zeneca vaccines available by two, leaving more than half a million people short of a second dose.

Doctors were pressurised into approving vaccines without sufficient evidence to support their usefulness. Some were courageous enough and refused to do, resigning from their positions in those committees. Some, like the lapdogs in the GMOA, said nothing, maintaining a deafening silence.

All this while, Delta, you were slowly but surely invading our shores. While the rest of the world was wary about you, those who led the battle against you in Paradise either underestimated you very badly about the death and disease you could be capable of – or they simply didn’t care enough.

That is why we have this new ‘mantra’ – about balancing our health with our economic needs. We all understand that we cannot be in ‘lockdown’ indefinitely but by the same token, this is also not the best time to ‘open’ the country, lift restrictions and let everyone – including you, Delta – roam free.

The slogan of these times appears to be that we should sustain our economy at all cost, probably because we will then able to realise those ‘vistas of prosperity and splendour’ or ‘saubhaagye dekma’ as it is popularly known – at least for the privileged few who will be lucky enough to still be alive!

Delta, you therefore have the authorities in Paradise to thank for allowing you unrestricted access here –  but they are not the only culprits. There are other groups of people for whom protesting for a wage hike apparently takes priority over protecting their own lives and those of their loved ones.

It is true that the powers that be are using the pandemic as an excuse to clamp down on protests. Yet it is also true that these protests will cost lives when you, Delta, use them as a vehicle to spread yourself as much as you can. That seems to be lost on those who are hellbent on protesting, no matter what.

Delta, with such a combination – of rulers who don’t listen to expert advice and do as they wish and a population which lacks common sense and discipline – Paradise will be yours for the taking. If there was a Gold medal at the Olympics for doing what we are not supposed to do, we would sure win that!

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: They say that vaccines are the best way to deal with you, Delta. Reflecting on what has happened recently and the decisions that have been made, for those who lead us and guide our destinies, no vaccine seems necessary. For the population who carry on regardless, no vaccine seems good enough!

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