COVID wasn’t the Only Disease #3
Buddhika Lakmala National STD/AIDS Control Programme (NSACP) outreach worker, poses in full PPE outside his Slave Island clinic, in January 2022. NSACP mobile teams continued to operate throughout the pandemic, and Buddhika is about to head out to nearby Stewart Street to take blood samples, and hand out HIV self-tests, needles, condoms, and educational literature to heroin addicts. Shot on assignment for Panos Pictures and The Global Fund.

• 105mm • f/4 • 1/500 • ISO125 • 5DMkIV & EF 24-105/f4L courtesy Canon/Metropolitan


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

Chief Tech
SAH Attanayake, the senior medical laboratory technologist, at the National STD/AIDS Control Programme (NSACP), De Saram Place, Maradana. Shot on assignment for Panos Pictures and The Global Fund, in January 2022.

• 50mm • f/4 • 1/320 • ISO400 • 5DMkIV & EF 50/1.4, courtesy Canon/Metropolitan.

A pharmacist hands out HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to high-risk individuals at the National STD/AIDS Control Programme (NSACP), De Saram Place, Colombo. 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.

Behind the Beach
Buddhika Wanniarachchi, a National STD/AIDS Control Programme (NSACP) outreach worker, takes a break from testing beachboys and other sex workers, at his field clinic, in the southern Sri Lanka tourist town of Hikkaduwa. January 2022. Shot on assignment for Panos Pictures and The Global Fund.*

*shot on a Canon EOS 5DMkIV & EF 50/1.4, 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

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.