Coronavirus – This word is here to stay for the foreseeable future and has woken many Ghanaians from their slumber, including myself. After a couple of years of not blogging, this situation actually got me to put out a new post. SARS-COV-2 and the disease it causes – covid-19, is in Ghana!
It is a pandemic. And that should have clued us in that it was just a matter of time before Auntie Corona came a-knocking in Ghana. About a week before the first case arrived in Ghana, (and I have heard people chirp merrily away that the cases so far have been imported…do we even make anything here?) we were happily discussing the National Cathedral – That monumental monstrosity to be built, that will save us all like Noah’s ark.
Let us look at some of the countries worldwide that have been hit with the covid-19 outbreak.
China – We have been bombarded with images and videos showing Chinese people eating live animals and Ghanaians are quick to call them dirty. Not sure if we should be the ones pointing fingers when it comes to being dirty.
Italy – they have an older population that is apparently more prone to the virus with tight-knit family units. In many many Ghanaian households, there are generations of family members staying under one small roof. I can only hazard a guess on what could happen in areas like Madina, Nima and Ashaiman where family members and non family members are stacked on top of each other in congested living conditions.
South Korea – I imagine a combination of their close proximity to China and the numerous religious zealots residing there must have been the greatest catalyst for the spread of the virus.
Fortunately, Korea seems to have a handle on the outbreak and the rest of the world can learn a thing or two from them.
Ghana has all the prevailing combo of filth, overcrowding and religious fanatics to make the situation a tinder box waiting for a match to explode. In each country where covid-19 struck, it proliferated rapidly without detection and herein lies my greatest fear about this pandemic.
I am glad the Ghanaian President put the measures he did in place. Better late than never, I say. I only wish he had been more visionary a leader and tried to get ahead of the situation by announcing those measures before the 1st case was even reported.
What were the measures put in place, you ask ?
1. SOCIAL DISTANCING AT BUSINESSES & OTHER WORKPLACES BETWEEN PATRONS & STAFF
In my humble opinion, It would have been very helpful to explain to the average Ghanaian what social distancing meant exactly. At a time like this we should not just throw out never-heard-before terms and expect people to know exactly what they meant.
2. THE MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT SHOULD WORK WITH THE TRANSPORT UNIONS AND PRIVATE AND PUBLIC OPERATORS TO ENSURE ENHANCED HYGIENIC CONDITIONS IN ALL VEHICLES AND TERMINALS BY PROVIDING AMONGST OTHERS, HAND SANITIZERS, RUNNING WATER AND SOAP FOR WASHING HANDS
I don’t want to sound overly critical but the implementation here is key. Running water is not a thing we see at these terminals and sadly when covid-19 hit, poor infrastructures were greatly exposed. I did see Veronica buckets at some stations a few days later but from the way they were being used I would certainly put social distancing between myself and those buckets.
3. TRACING (IDENTIFYING PERSONS WHO HAVE COME INTO CONTACT WITH INFECTED PERSONS)
Tracing comes at a high human and economic cost. How thorough these tracings are done can change the game in how the virus spreads. One of the 7 reported cases of Covid-19 (at the time of writing this article) was a University student at Legon. Having studied at University of Ghana Legon, I know how crowded these lecture halls can get, then there are the roommates and hall mates, the restaurants, canteens, night market and many other places a student can visit in a day or two. The tracing here is very key because the virus may take an average of a week before symptoms start to show. Knowing how things are done here I shudder when I think of the most likely limited personnel tasked to do the job with possibly limited vehicles to move around.That is if there are vehicles. And fuel.
4. PERSONAL HYGIENE
Observing personal hygiene is not taught overnight. Just take a look at some of our surroundings, the filth and the people who live in said filth,I think one has to be incredibly pessimistic that the President’s announcement will act like a magic wand and teach anyone who does not practice personal hygiene, hygiene 101. I was not surprised the day after the President’s announcement to see many hawkers wearing masks and gloves, all the while still practicing their normal unhygienic habits. But, hey they have gloves and masks, so it should be fine, right?
5. All PUBLIC GATHERINGS, INCLUDING CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS, FUNERALS, FESTIVALS, POLITICAL RALLIES, SPORTING EVENTS AND RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES, SUCH AS SERVICES IN CHURCHES AND MOSQUES, HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED FOR THE NEXT (4) WEEKS.PRIVATE BURIALS ARE PERMITTED, BUT WITH LIMITED NUMBERS NOT EXCEEDING TWENTY-FIVE (25) IN ATTENDANCE
Interestingly enough this was announced Sunday evening at 10pm by the President after a weekend of church activities, funerals and sporting events.
So we inadvertently lost a whole weekend here to prevent the spread. Nonetheless, this is a great measure and not overly drastic. I have already heard many religious buffoons in Ghana claim they can cure the Covid-19. Good luck to them and their gullible members who are still congregating together to pray the virus away, despite the suggestion not to gather.
People, please pray over Skype or the phone but do not get together in person. I know people would postpone weddings and funerals because a lot of them, including the church want the numbers and the monies that come with that to these occasions.
IN THE END WE CAN STILL USE PRAYERS. WE NEED THEM
I have always been amused when it comes to soccer games and Ghanaians pray for victory. People with poor mathematical skills spend hours doing permutations and combinations of how we would qualify to another round or stage during football games, when it’s obvious we played badly, were inadequately prepared and should be out of the competition. This is a time to follow the measures by our President and not to think we are special. Countries with way superior health facilities are running out of ventilators. It would be catastrophic if we have even a 100 cases here. We pray there will be no recorded deaths here and the virus will be curbed by the sheer will and commitment of the average Ghanaian to protect themselves and their neighbor. God bless Ghana!