THE BIG PICTURE
STAY POSITIVE AND COVID-NEGATIVE
Postmortems serve only to teach lessons whereas a positive mindset is the need of the hour
In the wake of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka, primarily attributable to a record cluster emanating from an apparel factory in Minuwangoda, there’s a widespread feeling that complacency among the people and perhaps the powers that be has caught up with a nation that took pride in its response to the pandemic when it first spread its tentacles back in March.
On a global scale, Sri Lanka has in fact done exceptionally well in mitigating the spread of the virus, and it continues to do so despite the anxiety and even panic that the latest surge has caused.
In contrast however, two basic precautions against contracting the dreaded virus – i.e. physical distancing and wearing masks – have been paid lip service, be it on public transport, at social gatherings, political events or even during the countdown to the general election in August!
There’s also been a perceptible lack of emphasis and messaging on what the guidelines are – until recently, when the prospect of a second wave of the virus loomed. We seemed to have lost sight of what an acceptable social gathering is and what the limits on numbers are.
So while the powers that be grapple with the twin imperatives of protecting lives and livelihoods – as it did not long ago, first by imposing a seven-week-long curfew and then opening the economy gradually – the nation and its citizens are on standby to face the music so to speak.
And while many sectors of the economy continue to swim rather than sink, thanks in no small measure to the government’s stimulus measures – including concessionary funding for the crucial SME sector – the number of businesses that simply cannot operate because of the multiple restrictions imposed by the state continues to grow.
On their behalf, one hopes that Budget 2021 will offer further stimulus measures to sectors that have faced prolonged closure even if this means printing money once again – because business continuity (and therefore, livelihoods) is at stake.
It is clear that this menace will continue to plague humankind until there’s a vaccine to prevent and/or cure it; and while there’s hope that a viable vaccine will be available in the new year, how it will be administered (for instance, we may need several doses of it over a period of time to ensure immunity), distributed and funded are questions for which there aren’t any answers as yet.
The bottom line however, is that crying over spilt milk will get us nowhere except in the context of lessons learned. Whether it be about personal mental wellbeing or business survival, ‘staying positive’ is a sine qua non as is abiding by the recently announced dos and don’ts, so as to stay ‘COVID-negative.’
In a nutshell, it would seem that we have to learn to live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. And as far as the wide spectrum of opinions especially on social media platforms go, the adage ‘live and let live’ will hold us all in good stead.