Buzz with Danu - Kumudini David

May 05 2021.

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The Buzz takes a visit this week into the quarantine centre all thanks to Kumudini who has been making positive waves on social media in collecting funds to help those who are in need at these centres. It’s so amazing to see how a little bit of kindness can go such a long way. Today, I wanted to speak to her apart from her amazing voice, about life in a quarantine centre and what we need to keep in mind. 

1. What made you get tested? What were your symptoms? 
I had a very bad headache, body aches and a slight fever in the early morning hours of the 25th Sunday. I attributed the headache and body ache to the stress of Hank, one of my Rottweilers, getting sick once again but the fever worried me. I had admitted Hank to the hospital the day before. I got a call around 8 am saying Hank had passed away. I went to get myself tested right after saying goodbye to my baby and sorting out the disposal of his remains. I'm a teacher. I didn't want to risk anyone else getting the virus from me in case I was infected so getting myself tested seemed the most responsible thing to do.

2. What are your thoughts on the stigma attached to this? 
I've never been a person who cared a lot about stigma. Stigma is a result of fear and ignorance, perpetuated by stupidity. I will always do what I believe is right. If others want to judge me about it, it's their problem. Not mine. It's not like I went looking for the virus to get infected with it deliberately. I took precautions, they proved to be insufficient. So I did the next best thing by getting myself tested and making sure I don't become a part of the problem.

3. How are the days at the quarantine centre? 
It's been an eventful stay so far :). I've been making daily posts about my experiences and learnings so others will be better prepared. Too much has happened for me to list them all out here. Suffice it to say I saw problems that needed to be addressed and I addressed them the best way I could.

4.What was the process like, from the time you were diagnosed to now? 
It's been a learning experience. I've documented all of it on my Facebook account, Kumudini David.

5.How are people treated at the centre? 
Very respectfully. The administration and medical staff are unfailingly respectful, courteous and kind. 

6.What is the pressing issue there according to you? 
The inability to get reloads for their phones. Most of the people here have prepaid connections and they get by on the Rs.100 phone cards and Rs.99 Data cards. Most have some money with them, even a little, but the army is not allowed to take cash from them. Further, anything the patients have touched is considered contaminated and cannot move past the gate to the compound. Also the embarrassment of the ladies to ask for sanitary napkins.

7. If one has to get into a quarantine centre what should they pack in their bags? 
This was compiled by a friend...Chinthi. Thank you! It's quite comprehensive. 
✅ Clothes bag
[ ] Bedsheets 2 (thin/light)
[ ] Pillow cases 2
[ ] Towel 2 (thin)
[ ] Something to take showers in (diya redda) 
[ ] 2 night outfits 
[ ] 4 day outfits (with pockets)
[ ] Underwear 
[ ] Jersey or shawl, socks (in case sent to Diyathalawa or Kahawatta)
[ ] 3-4 large plastic bags folded (to keep soiled clothes etc.)
[ ] Phone and charger, multiplug (square and round pin), extension chord
[ ] Notebook and 2 pens, storybook or ebooks on phone 
[ ] Identity card
[ ] About Rs. 2000/- cash in mixed notes
[ ] Small padlock and key
[ ] Rubber slippers. 2 if possible. Make sure they have a good grip and not slippery.
[ ] Scissors, cello tape and a small sharp knife

[ ] About 1 week of medicines in a small pouch for your 11-day stay
[ ] Photocopy of most recent prescription, laminated

✅Toiletries bag (pack inside clothes bag) - it should ideally be waterproof and have a strap so you can hang around your neck if the bathroom has no hooks.
[ ] Soap and toiletries (in small travel bottles, as few as possible. I take 1. body wash that can be used on face and hair as well, 2. cream, 3. toothpaste)
[ ] Toothbrush and comb (+ razor for guys)
[ ] Hairclips/hairbands
[ ] Cotton buds, floss, lip balm, deodorant as needed 
[ ] Wet wipes, toilet paper
[ ] Pads, and a few small sili sili bags to dispose.
[ ] Matches, candles
[ ] Few rubber bands, safety pins
[ ] Sanitizer small bottle
[ ] Dettol/Lysol small bottle
[ ] Soap for washing clothes (lots and lots of this) 
[ ] Sanitary napkins

✅Food kit
[ ] Small flask
[ ] Plastic water bottle
[ ] Melamine/plastic cup and plate 
[ ] 1 teaspoon, 1 tablespoon 
[ ] A small box with tea bags, coffee sachets, milk powder in small zip lock bags or one 200ml carton of fresh milk
[ ] 1 small pack of biscuits, cheese wedges.

8. How long of a notice are you given from the time of test results to pick up?
24 hours to get to a paid quarantine centre or to get enrolled in the government system. Once you give them your decision they give you 30 minutes to be ready for pick up.  They won't wait for you to pack. ready or not you need to get into the transport when they come for you.

9. How are the toilet facilities? 
The facilities here are squatting toilets. Considering there are only 8 toilets for 300 ladies and kids it's actually better to have squatting toilets and they are easier to keep clean and wash. You MUST keep the toilets clean. There are no garbage bins to dispose of pads or toilet paper. All those must be taken to the garbage point where barrels are kept to burn them. Maintaining the facilities are up to the patients. So be ready to wash, scrub, sweep and clean.

10. Do they have enough supplies for women’s sanitary needs? 
I ordered sanitary napkins for the ladies. Lot's of them. They were too shy to ask the Army guys. This particular facility is quite well stocked both from the large number of donations from Colombo and the online orders I made from Keells Kegalle.

11. How can the public help? 
First, try very hard not to get infected. Please. The national system is overloaded. Try very hard not to become a part of the problem. Please try to find out the needs of the other quarantine facilities so we can help them.  Be kind. Kindness goes a long long way.

12. What’s the biggest experience you will treasure from all of this? All of it. As much as I miss home and my babies I'm glad I was here to help, not just the patients but also the administration. I intend to use his experience to continue helping the national system. It needs us to pull together and help.



Danu Innasithamby

Danu is a Jaffna Boy with a Marketing qualification (only because he needed to study, and not because he wanted it). He has been a part of the team for seven years and is the face behind Buzz with Danu, and WTF.


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