COVID wasn’t the Only Disease #2
Dr WCJK Jayakody interviews an out patient from behind an anti-COVID barrier at the National STD/AIDS Control Programme, De Saram Place, Maradana. Shot on assignment for Panos Pictures and The Global Fund, in January 2022.

• 24mm • f/4 • 1/125 • ISO1600 • Canon 5DMkIV & EF 24-105/f4L, courtesy Canon/Metropolitan

• 50mm • f/1.4 • 1/320 • ISO200 • Canon 5DMkIV & EF 50/1.4, courtesy Canon/Metropolitan


COVID wasn’t the Only Disease
A patient thrusts his arm through an anti-COVID screen for a blood test. STD Clinic, Mahamodara Hospital, Galle. Shot on assignment for Panos Pictures and The Global Fund, in January 2022.

• 24mm • f/4 • 1/80 • ISO1600 • Canon 5DMkIV & EF 24-105/f4L, courtesy Canon/Metropolitan

International Relations
Galle Fort, Sri Lanka. January 2022. Shot on assignment for Panos Pictures and The Global Fund.

*shot on a Canon EOS 5DMkIV & EF 24-105/f4L, courtesy Canon/Metropolitan.

No Country for Old Men
Or women. Elderly residents of Attidiya, a southern Colombo suburb, queue in the hot sun for their Pfizer booster shots on 17th November 2021, as the Sri Lankan government rolls out its third round of vaccinations against COVID-19. Large canopies had been installed, but these were occupied by the municipal and Health Ministry officials, most of whom also clearly occupied two chairs each, while the elderly stood.
Less than twenty chairs were available for over a hundred people (all over sixty years of age, and many in their eighties or older). The majority of the elderly had been standing in the sun for over an hour before the vaccines arrived, and were very agitated and stressed as the officials seated them (with little to no social distancing) without any regard to their places in the queue. There was, however, some concern shown for those who were clearly the most feeble (like my parents here in the foreground), who were given priority. All in all, it was a lot more chaotic than our first visit, and a far cry from the military-run vaccination programmes available in some areas in and around the capital.

Travel in the Time of Covid #2
Shore By O! on Mt Lavinia Beach, just south of Colombo City, in August 2020; usually a popular place for sundowners, with both locals and international travellers crowding the tables. As Sri Lanka comes out of its latest period of round-the-clock lockdown, a year on, pubs and bars haven’t been allowed to open after they were ordered shut in mid-May.

Socially Distant Jesus
Signs inside St Lucia’s Cathedral, Kotahena, instruct worshippers on the new normal. April 2021. In spite of these precautions, Sri Lanka is weathering another wave of COVID-19 infections, with a complete round-the-clock curfew that began in mid-May, now in its 25th day. With little apparent change to the infection rate, and no comprehensive vaccination programme in place, the government seems as distant from its people as do their gods.

Shot with a Canon 5DMkIV & EF16-35/2.8L courtesy Canon/Metropolitan

Restricted Flavours
Sliced mango, topped with buffalo curd and kitul honey. Mangoes have featured prominently in my diet these past weeks, as part of breakfast and as dessert. Like last year, the harsh and interminable round-the-clock curfew coincides with the mango season and, again, I find myself living on a property blessed with a mango tree. Last year, we had more mangoes than we could eat, giving them away to any takers before they rotted; and, it’s been much the same this time as well. Luckily, this is one of my favourite fruits; but I’m beginning to associate the taste of mango with oppression and hardship. Sri Lanka, 1st June 2020. Day 12 of the lockdown.
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Light #2
Paper Vesak lanterns in a locked down suburb of Colombo. May 2021.
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The rain-heavy wind whipped at the lanterns til they flapped and danced on their tethers like silenced and desperate birds of paradise; mutely replicating the fluttering hearts of their creators who looked up each time a vehicle slowed down, hoping for a potential customer; on this the only day of respite in another locked down Vesak. Attidiya, May 2021.

Running Down the Clock
Athletes from a Negombo high school, in September 2018. For most of Sri Lanka, school’s been out since March 2020, over a year ago; and while classroom education has proceeded, for the more fortunate students, online, all extracurricular activities, like sports, have been completely on hold. For most, a lack of sports may seem a small price to pay to keep the spread of the corona virus at bay but, for many high school athletes, a year on the sidelines is the end of a career before it begins. For those hoping to represent their schools in track, cricket, rugby, and other sports at the under-19s (a vital step in the process for selection to club and national teams, and an advantage even for job opportunities in the government and mercantile sectors), it will be a year lost forever. As the government continues to mismanage the pandemic, the long-awaited vaccination of the Sri Lankan population has been slow and inefficient; and the authorities have countered with a new series of lockdowns and travel restrictions that are set to batter an already exhausted populace. With the crisis now in its second year, and another batch of young sportsman and sportswomen facing deserted stadiums and closed training facilities, there is no indication of when the authorities will allow schools to resume.