Sri Lankan bishops urge action on COVID

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An Appeal for Responsible and Collaborative Citizenship

We note with grave concern the present situation regarding the spread of Covid-19 in Sri Lanka.  We are disturbed by the rising number of deaths per day and the alarming increase in the number of new cases reported.  It is imperative that we all take serious note of the current situation and act with responsibility since this country cannot afford to lose our valuable human resources and drain our limited financial resources.  The management and control of this virus is now the responsibility of all sections of society.

As such, we appeal to all Sri Lankans to unite in our fight against this virus by adhering to the following:

  1. Take all health guidelines seriously and adhere to the laid down protocol strictly through self-discipline and responsible conduct.
  2. Refrain from engaging in non-essential transactions and limit movements even when there is no lockdown in the country.
  3. Submit themselves to the vaccination programme without having reservations unless due to medical reasons.
  4. Help each other by offering social and psychological support to our neighbors and those in our communities who may be recovering in their homes and also comforting those who may have lost loved ones. This is not the time to stigmatize the afflicted but the time to assist those who need our help.

We commend the State for conducting the vaccination program in an accelerated manner to cover all parts of the country.  We now urge the authorities to take necessary steps to secure a vaccination that can be safely administered to all above the age of 12 years as the next important phase of the vaccination drive.  We are deeply concerned that school education has now been disrupted for over a year which will have far-reaching implications for the progress of our nation. Therefore, it is imperative that we explore all avenues to reopen schools without any further delay.  It is also an opportune moment to device innovative mechanisms as alternatives for public examinations recognizing the disruption that has already been caused due to the pandemic.

We hope that the State will ensure the steady supply of drugs, oxygen and equipment to all parts of the country to avoid any inequity in the supply of necessary medication and care to our people. Priority has to be given to protect the frontline medical staff who are exposed to the virus more than others including the provision of booster vaccinations based on medical practice. Given the extent of the crisis, the costs of drugs and hospitalization and the need to allow for creativity on the part of our medical experts to respond to this crisis, we request that health authorities and medical experts be provided the space and opportunity to explore alternative treatments and strategies in managing the situation as a medical emergency.

It is common knowledge that our hospitals are now overcrowded and health services are stretched beyond limits owing to the high number of Covid patients. We offer to the health authorities the facilities of our church across the country to be used as make-shift hospitals, intermediate medical centers or quarantine centers which can be managed by health officials and supported by our institutions and personnel so that hospitals are reserved for those who really need them.

We urge the Media to demonstrate sensitivity in its reporting as they play a vital role in educating the people. We should not allow the contracting of this virus to be viewed as a crime but seek to promote responsible conduct in our day to day affairs. The dignity of life should be respected at all times particularly in relation to news reporting on those being afflicted and those who succumb to the virus.

Our congregations will continue to engage in prayer upholding our health workers and those engaged in frontline duties and seeking wisdom for those in charge of formulating policies.  We pray that the grace of our Lord will carry this nation and the world through this phase of hardship.

The Right Reverend Keerthisiri Fernando                 The Right Reverend Dushantha Rodrigo

Bishop of Kurunagala &                                             Bishop of Colombo

The Presiding Bishop of Church of Ceylon

24.08.2021