It is truly devastating to see so many lives being taken due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak. However it is a relief to see that the Sri Lankan Government has taken measures to prevent the spread of infection. As the number of confirmed cases rise, so does the curiosity about what we can do as citizens and how we can survive this cruel sensation that’s sweeping the nation.
We as human beings have always been curious creatures and that curiosity has brought us a long way as a species. We have an unquenchable thirst for new information and would do anything to learn and share new information amongst ourselves. Ironically Social and Mass media of other sorts have become our oasis for information regarding the current situation of the country. In this time of dread and despair we can still find individuals who will go beyond all known boundaries to make sure that their personal or political agendas are fulfilled. Therefore it is no wonder we get to see and hear fake and misleading news and information being shared around.
As citizens we should learn to only trust valid information received from reliable and confirmed sources. So if someone sends you an audio message of some random individual claiming he or she is a relative of a government official, you know that it’s all but a mere fabrication or a prank. We have to be responsible about what we share on social media. Especially during these dark times as misinformation that’s shared can lead to mass hysteria and other unwanted behaviour.
Place your faith in your local news programmes which do hourly and breaking news sessions. HiruNews and Ada-Derana are a few news programmes that bring reliable and speedy news to us who are at home. You can also place your trust on the official twitter accounts of some government officials, Media Activists such as Mr. Azzam Ameen of BBC Sinhala, Marianne David of the DailyFT and Roel Raymond of Roar. You can also get reliable news through apps such as “WatchDog” and “Google-News”, both of these apps are available on any mobile platform. The World Health Organization is also a good source of knowledge that we can keep up-to-date with news about the rapidly spreading virus.
It is also a fact that we should not stay politically biased and plan to spread various misconceptions about what the current government is doing to handle the risk we are facing. Criticizing the government and their methods is always welcome as it can point out flaws and they can quickly implement some procedure to better the situation. However spreading false information that the quarantine centres are treating patients poorly is an extremely foolish and immature thing to do. An official report was broadcasted through Newsfirst where citizens under quarantine in the Diyathalawa Army camps stated specifically that they are being cared for and treated exquisitely.
The reason why the government ordered a curfew is so that they can control the spread of COVID-19 and trying to trespass once the curfew has taken place is an utterly foolish thing to do as there’s a possibility of infection. The government’s decision to do so might seem hurried and not well thought out, but we must be aware that there are contingencies that have been planned for such situations. Because it is the responsibility of the authorities to ensure public safety. Therefore it’s disappointing to see that 4600 individuals were arrested for breaking the curfew since March 20th. Even though the thought of staying indoors for a long period is daunting we have a responsibility towards the betterment of our society.
“Words have power” and in this day and age what we say and share online has the power to make an impact in society. Be responsible of what you share and adhere to all instructions given by the government. If we are aware of how our actions affect others, then we can ensure that we go back to the normal routine of Sri Lanka’s daily life much faster. Even though we cannot physically be together in these dark times, let’s stand together and extend our support to those we can.