Cautions to Help Protect the Living During the Pandemic


Sri Lanka is passing through a difficult time due to Covid-19 pandemic which affects its economy, health, livelihood and social relations. Periodic lock downs to contain the virus spread is debilitating both in terms of economic and social sustainability.This is affecting all segments of society irrespective of caste, creed and colour.
Compounding this, the government’s Cremation Only policy is hurting the feelings of those who wish to bury their dead, especially Muslims and Christians.

Without any doubt, Cremation only policy is hurting the feelings of Muslims and as a community this policy built with no scientific basis against global consensus is detested. The NSC urge the compatriots to use all persuasive and democratic means to communicate with the government to review this policy.

The NSC, whilst seeking review of the Cremation only policy, observes that there are other challenges caused by the pandemic which require high priority by all concerned to protect the living. We sense that there is an urgency to concentrate on areas such as congested living in squalid conditions, poverty, lockdowns without livelihood support and lack of health awareness, ignorance and fear caused by mis-communications.

These are causing more harm to the living than the problem of the disposal of the dead. These are affecting the poor and marginalized people living in squalid conditions and poverty, which are compounded by ignorance that contribute to failed sanitary conditions and poor social distancing possibly causing the spread of virus and more death amongst them.

Therefore, this ambient condition needs urgent remediation to protect the living and reduce the death rate. If this is not properly addressed by the stakeholders: principally the state and the community, this can lead to continuation of lockdowns, decimation of the local economy and potential increase of Covid-19 influenced death and worsening of poverty and rupture peace in the society.

Responding to this proactively can reduce the spread of the virus and minimize the death rate and save more families from the loss of their loved ones. This would help the country to emerge out of this pandemic faster.

The NSC observes that the following areas need quick intervention by the stakeholders to get to grips with the management of the situation:

  1.  Reducing the fear amongst people by instituting community health education and establishing mechanism to ease communication between the citizens and stakeholders.
  2.  Providing better health and sanitation infrastructure facilities in high density congested areas.
  3. Providing livelihood support during lockdown.
  4. Establish local mechanism to enable local community representatives to coordinate and communicate with relevant state agencies operating in the region.
  5.  Create a local mechanism (Masjid or Mahalla based) for consultation, coordination, and cooperation with authorities and people, helping out the needy.
  6. Protect the privacy and dignity of all victims and help the nation to recover fast.
  7. Similarly, the public to strictly regulate their lifestyle to suit the new normal:
    1. Strictly follow the health guidelines, maintain social distance, wear masks, wash hands.
    2. Impose self-quarantine by refraining from non-essential outings, minimize family visits, travel around and gatherings.

Tariq Mahmud,
National Shoora Council.

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