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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 74

Coronavirus And The ‘Cassandra Crossing’

By Rohan Abeygunawadena - Nugegoda

Watching the Sri Lankan returnees from Italy two months ago, and the crude behavior of some at the BIA, reminded me of the disaster thriller movie, The Cassandra Crossing, directed by Italian film director and screenwriter George Pan Cosmatos in 1976 and released on 31 March, 1977.

This movie was screened in mid-1978 at the Liberty Cinema in Colombo. Many folks thought it was unrealistic fiction though they enjoyed the movie. Like Sir Arthur C. Clarke who suggested the use of geostationary satellites for telecommunication connectivity of the world in 1945, which has now turned to be true, the story jointly written by George P. Cosmatos and Robert Katz has now become a reality, with the deadly Coronavirus raging all over the world.

The top cast includes Burt Lancaster, Swedish film actress Ingrid Lilian Thulin, Richard Harris, Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner, Martin Sheen, OJ Simpson, and the legendary Lee Strasberg.

There are many lessons to be learnt from this thrilling and tense movie.

Firstly, let the experts handle a crisis situation affecting people. The experts should respect each other’s view point, and it should be team work to find solutions.

Secondly, affected parties should wisely face the situation without being emotional.

Thirdly, officers with authority should not blindly follow orders, but listen to the knowledgeable and educated people, carefully analyze the situation they are faced with, before making decisions. In this story there was a communication blackout as well.

Finally, all professionals/decision-makers have a responsibility and accountability for their actions.

Sri Lanka is fortunate. We have a well-developed healthcare system with the creation of a separate Civil Medical Department established in the year 1858, which department eradicated many diseases like an acute febrile illness such as malaria and the paralytic disease, polio. In fact all schools in Sri Lanka were closed for two months when the worst outbreak of poliomyelitis occurred in 1962. All children in the age group of 3 months to 15 years were immunized during the closure of schools.

Prior to Civil War Sri Lanka had only a ceremonial Army. This was seen in 1971 when a full blown insurgency was started by JVP. Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) had to depend on other countries for military assistance.

British government air lifted small arms and ammunition from its bases in Singapore.

India sent a Gurkhas regiment to guard Katunayake Airport and four frigates to set up a naval cordon around Ceylon.

Pakistan army unit took over the guard duties at Ratmalana Airport.

This was due to the SOS call sent by then Prime Minister Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranayke to friendly countries.

Today, we have a professional defense and police force, which eradicated a ruthless terrorist movement of LTTE, and are capable of handling any crisis.

The intelligence capabilities of the Police and defense forces were demonstrated when they quickly identified the clusters of affected people. They also set up over 45 quarantine centers in no time.
These professional outfits, with the assistance of civil administration, are capable of eradicating this infectious disease called COVID-19. All Sri Lankans should support them by following their instructions.

It was heartening to see on the TV the members of the ruling party and members of the opposition parties sit together with responsible officials and discuss present health issues and strategies to overcome them. As a result people hoped that there will be a new political dimension in the future to develop this country. Hope that culture will recommence at least after the General Election.

Stay Safe, Stay at Home, Stay Informed, But Don't Forget to Wash Your Hands.

- Asian Tribune -

Coronavirus And The ‘Cassandra Crossing’
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