How we made this memorial

The idea for this memorial came about as the Sri Lankan government’s recording and reporting of people who died from Covid-19 began to dwindle, even as the number of deaths and infections continued to rise.

Where Government press releases early in the pandemic gave out more specific details of some of the people who died each day – such as their age, sex, hometown and causes of death – come June 2021, the information became reduced to only numbers, with no details to identify each loss as a person. This meant that apart from public figures and some health workers whose deaths received some sort of public acknowledgement, anyone else who died was a number in a daily toll.

Our approach to the memorial is to show that those lost are more than just numbers, while also ensuring we can point them to a source.

In the first phase, we created a database using information from these publicly available sources of information:

We drew out all elements from these sources that allowed us to present each death as the passing of an individual person – where they were from, their age and sex, where they passed away, and what has been officially recorded as their cause of death. We also noted down whenever people in prisons were reported to have died from Covid-19.

These details are manually entered into the database by our volunteers and are publicly available, even though the memorial only displays a person’s age, sex, date of death and where they were from.

What's next?

The amount of publicly available details about each person who has died from Covid-19 in Sri Lanka is severely limited, at about 5% of all of the country’s Covid-19 deaths.

In order to memorialize more people who died, we need support and contributions beyond our current sources.

These would include:

  • Submissions from people who want to add their loved ones to the memorial
  • Advocacy for the government to share more details about every individual person who has died from Covid-19 in Sri Lanka
  • Sources of information, from journalists, researchers and other interested citizens who are able to identify and/or access them.
  • Community-driven data to help us ensure that those memorialized are not misgendered or misrepresented, hopefully also leading to naming them at a later stage, with consent from families or loved ones.