The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as you may be aware is a pandemic that continues to rock havoc around the world. This deadly virus which emanated from China found its way to Ghana in March 2020. Since then, Ghana has been hailed globally, including praise from the WHO, for its measures and response to the virus. Despite the praise, the country continues to register a relatively high number of cases (currently at 5,530) putting it at 5th in Africa in terms of a number of recorded cases. This situation makes one wonder; of all the right things, what may we be doing wrong as a country?
Ghana has adopted a number of measures to contain the spread of the virus. These include, the closure of the country's borders; ban on public gatherings; closure of some institutions; disinfection of public places; and more importantly, aggressive tracing, testing and treatment of infected persons. Ghana currently has administered more tests per million people than any other country in Africa. A feat, which the current President of the country, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo deserves a lot of praise for. The government in its handling of the virus, is however not putting out details of places and areas where infected persons have been to.
Of the many right things the government is doing, it is my considered opinion that the government's failure to provide details of the areas and places infected persons have been to is proving to be an Achille's heel in its bid to contain the spread of virusin Ghana. COVID-19 is generally accepted as an unseen enemy that the world is fighting. The major question then is, how do you defeat an unseen enemy without “improving visibility” of the enemy? Of course, COVID-19 cannot be detected by the naked eye. However, as a virus that is transmitted from person-to-person, having knowledge of the areas infected persons have been providing a great weapon to help stop a further spread of the virus. This is an approach which is being adopted in South Korea with great success.
South Korea was among the first countries to record the highest number of COVID-19 cases outside mainland China. Although South Korea never closed its borders or had a lockdown, it adopted the measure of aggressive contact tracing, testing and treatment of infected persons. One other measure South Koreatook was to provide a map giving details of the places infected persons had been to and to warn people to be extra careful in those areas. Further, specific dates and time these infected persons were in those areas were put out to the public to allow persons who could have come into contact with themto present themselves for testing at the nearest medical facility. Today, South Korea's case count stands at 10,991 with 9,762 recoveries and 260 deaths.
Ghana is indeed no South Korea, but the lesson and benefit of arming your citizens with the relevant information to protect themselves and prevent the further spread of the virus cannot be downplayed. One may raise the argument of causing unnecessary fear and panic with putting out such details.However, this argument in my opinion is untenable because the virus is real and spreading. Without the requisite information to arm our “fellow Ghanaians”to be extra cautious in certain areas and places, the virus will continue to “come into our homes” to cause greater harm. There are people in Ghana who do not even believe that the virus exist. It is my appeal to the government to reconsider its stance on sharing these critical details with the public. If shared, it will allow people to be extra cautious in certain areas and inform people to come forward to get themselves tested. My appeal of course does not include giving out details of patients whose identity must be protected in accordance with the laws of Ghana.
It is my prayer that we see an end to this pandemic in the shortest possible time. Let us unite and play our role as Ghanaians by continually observing the measures being preached by our health professionals and government.
Stay at Home and Stay Safe
Long live Ghana.
14th May 2020.