Kalyani flying high
Before delving into the story, I will introduce myself through the eyes of Chandanie Wanigatunga a colleague from SLMA, now a great friend.
One day, if she writes a book about me it starts off....
" Once upon a time there was a lady who loved to talk. She talked with her family, with her friends, colleagues, even with her neighbours. In fact, she talked with anybody & everybody that was around. But talking alone was not enough for her. So, she posted on FB, sent messages on messenger & she texted. Being her, she texted the " authorities" too.
Now we all know, even in the best of times the authorities do not respond to any message, it takes a miracle to get them to do so. But miracles do happen & in this instance the " Authorities" CALLED her back.
With that introduction now to the story proper.
By the beginning of March, we in Sri Lanka started breathing Corona & then we were talking, watching, viewing, reading, phoning, texting & even dreaming COVID 19. News about Corona was travelling fast. Sri Lankan citizens arrived from Italy & there were some hot moments at the airport." Breaking news" became the normal news channel. “Calls” to the authorities became necessary
Firstly, A young colleague posted on FB that she heard of a musical evening in Negombo esplanade that evening hosted by a familiar name in the music industry. I requested her to inform the police. She wrote back that police were not helpful because they have not received orders to stop such events.
One cannot wait for orders because this may become a starting point for corona spread especially with a crowd which may have returnees from Italy. I found the contact number of the organisers and the chief organizer responded – any other leader would have asked me to fly a kite (anyway not a good time for flying kites). A very polite gentleman who understood the views of a doctor but who was helpless because the organizers pushed him to have the concert for at least 2 hours to satisfy the sponsors.
I appealed to him with "you are a young man (who knows he maybe my age even), others who come to your concert are also young but remember when all of you go home your parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles are at home. There was a moment of silence & said " I'll do my best, doctor"
Two hours later he called to say that he cancelled the event.
My kite is now flying in the sky.
Secondly, I received a message from a colleague living in a South East Asian city that there was a religious congregation with participants from 26 countries with 10,000 delegates in another city in the same region - some were positive for the infection. He wanted me to divulge this to the relevant "authorities" and not to tell outsiders. I did my job. Ten days later I received a call from Epidemiologist thanking me for the information & requested me to share if I get further information.
Now I am an Intelligence Officer in addition to a Paediatrician
Kite is high up in the sky, beautifully moving with the wind.
Thirdly, throughout this period the media being media, went down to the bottom of ethical reporting. It was freedom of the wild ass for them. Social media campaign to counteract this failed miserably. Doctors on main media talk shows tried giving this message diplomatically, with zero effect.
From phoning I moved to texting. Sent a text to an "authority" at mid-day. By evening received a response that my message was noted. On Breaking News, the news reader said that Minister of Health issued instructions for media to refrain from unethical reporting.
I patted myself on the back. Few who knew about my text message congratulated me.
At the evening news session Ministry of Information showed the letter signed by the Minister on the previous day.
A nosedive of the kite.