Today as Sri Lanka celebrates the Sinhala and Hindu New Year, I am aware of the challenges faced in each and every household.
The country has been closed for the past three weeks due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in severe economic hardships for all households. Families are unable to gather and children remain separated from grandparents. The hardships are felt by all.
However even a month after the first local COVID-19 patient was detected, Sri Lankan medical workers and authorities have to a great extent limited its spread, working round the clock. We have detected 214 cases out of which 56 have recovered and been discharged. According to health experts, the country is still witnessing only family and identified chain of transmissions whereas a peak of the virus was expected by mid April. We have done well, all thanks to the great leadership of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the medical workers, authorities and tri forces and police.
However as we now wait to move on, more challenges will come our way. Even after authorities relax the curfew, the economy will take some time to revive, sectors will have to work hard, a food shortage will be experienced to some extent due to imports being limited and Sri Lanka, along with the world will just have to recover from this health crisis. This year will not be easy, but if we all remain united and committed we can overcome this challenge sooner than expected.
Sri Lanka must remember that after a 30 year war ended in May 2009, we began performing exceptionally well by emerging as one of best international investment hubs within a short period of time. Within a year, Sri Lanka transformed into one of the most sought after tourist destinations and businesses began to flourish. This proved we were a nation who could always overcome hardships. We did it back then, we most certainly can do it again.
In order to provide some relief to the people, I initiated the #HomeGardenChallenge in Sri Lanka a few weeks ago. Within this short span of time, hundreds of people reached out to me from all parts of the country telling me they had participated in this challenge. Children took part as well and this created awareness of how this challenge could lead to food sustainability within our homes in the future. It has created awareness.
While we as a nation battle a common enemy once again, I urge all of you this New Year to adhere to the rules set out by the authorities. These rules have been imposed only to assure your safety and as we stay home and partake in the New Year rituals with our immediate family members, let us not forget that there is a team of people out there, which includes tri forces, medical workers, public health inspectors and police who have not been able to go home to their families only to ensure our safety.
The least we can do to appreciate their services is stay indoors and maintain social distancing.
Today although wishing all a ‘Happy’ New Year may not be the correct term, I however do wish all of you a ‘Healthy and Prosperous New Year’. Stay home and Celebrate! Sri Lanka will rise again. Till then stay safe and take care.