Past: At the onset of the lockdown social media was highly critical of panic buying. However, over time as the situation became more severe, the gravity of the situation became clearer. As a result of significant social distancing measures and strict government lockdown policies, there was a considerable amount of fear of Covid-19. In hindsight, it has to be questioned if the reaction on social media was overblown.
Present: As the lockdown in Sri Lanka eases and as semblance of normalcy returns, one of the key questions on everyone’s mind is, will there be a second wave? The lockdown had a significant impact on the Sri Lanka workforce with over 60% of the workforce seeing a reduction in earnings. The fear of course is another prolonged lockdown will significantly impact household income, which in turn will impact social morale and wellbeing.
It is unknowable at this point in time if there would be a second wave of a coronavirus outbreak in Sri Lanka. As the understanding of viral epidemiology and other factors such as seasonal weather patterns, demographics and government action will determine the outcome. I write this post in light of the Nationwide protest over George Floyd, now expanding across the world for the second consecutive week. However, the current upheaval in the United States might provide a good understanding of a second wave of the coronavirus infection.
What is apparent is that the footage of the protest clearly shows that social distancing is not being followed and all government guidelines on Covid-19 are violated. The protests began on the 26th of May and have continued. Based on the information provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the incubation period of the virus is between 5 and 14 days. The USA is looking at a potentially massive outbreak in the upcoming days.
Future: The second and third weeks of June appears to be significantly important because a large increase in Covid-19 cases in the USA could indicate that a second outbreak is in progress. This, in turn, will allow countries like Sri Lanka to better understand the merits of relaxing social distancing rules and lockdown restrictions to prevent a second outbreak from occurring.
There are three possible outcomes that I can foresee;
- A sudden spike in Covid-19 cases
- A flattening of the curve in Covid-19 cases
- A decline in Covid-19 cases
Second wave: If the second or third outcomes were to occur in the USA, we can infer the possibility of the second wave is less likely in Sri Lanka. While I leave the reasoning of the outcome to the epidemiologists, I believe that this would be a significant boost to Sri Lanka as this would help a devastated tourism industry recover as we gain back our freedom to travel.
Thuvarakan Senthilmani – Research