It is well acknowledged that Governments must be transparent and accurate in their public communications, to the maximum extent possible, as part of their response to a global health pandemic. During a pandemic citizens and civil societies cannot be passive consumers of information that is put out by Governments. Questions must be asked and asking questions must not be considered as burdensome by the Government. In the interests of bettering our response to COVID-19 the Tamil Civil Society Forum puts forward the following eight questions and seeks an early response from the Government to the same.
1. Governments world over have been guided by science in deciding their exit strategy to lockdown measures. The main criteria used has been the rate at which the virus is transmitted and as to whether the resources of the public heath sector in the State is able to cope with the rate at which the virus is spreading. What is the current rate of transmission in Sri Lanka? Where does that rate stand when compared with the resources that we have in our public health sector? What data was used by the Government in relaxing the curfew on 20 April 2020?
2. To determine the real rate of transmission it is suggested that testing must be expanded. Has the number of tests being performed on a daily basis progressively increased in Sri Lanka? Have sufficient funds been allocated for the purchase of testing kits? Are we in a position now where tests are being performed on those not exhibiting symptoms of COVID19 as well? If not, how does the Government calculate the real rate of transmission?
3. On what basis was the curfew lifted on 19.04.2020 for most districts? Was the date decided to impact on the meeting of the Election Commission on 20.04.2020 to determine the date of elections? Why did the Government ignore the suggestion made by the Provincial Director of Health Services of Jaffna not to relax the curfew for at least one further week?