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30.05.2020 Opinion

Clement Kwarteng Writes: Social Distancing In The Fight Against COVID-19 

By Clement Kwarteng
Clement Kwarteng Writes: Social Distancing In The Fight Against COVID-19 
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The novel COVID-19 since its outbreak continues to be a perilous bane whose solution is yet to see the light of the day. Being a novel virus, a high level of circumspection is required to curtail its spread since there is no cure or vaccine.

The World Health Organization has however laid down certain protocols to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19. Popular among these protocols include regular washing of hands with soap under running water, regular and thoroughly cleansing of hands with alcohol-based hand rub, observation of social distancing, wearing of nose masks, avoiding touching of eyes and nose.

In Ghana, to commute the spread of the coronavirus, the government has taken some bold measures such as the enforcement of nose mask-wearing, banned all forms of social gathering, reduced the number of passengers in commercial vehicles, and observation of social distancing in public places.

According to medical experts, one of the safest ways to protect one’s self from contracting the virus is to limit movement. In this regard, most governments in countries where there was an alarming rate of spread of the virus imposed lockdown to control human movement hence reducing the spread. Inasmuch as the lockdown produced a remarkable success in curtailing the spread of the virus, it also impacted negatively on the economies of these countries thus the unsustainability of the lockdown.

To salvage the economy while protecting the citizenry from the parlous coronavirus, the government of Ghana iterated the need to observe social distancing when the President lifted the partial lockdown in one of his address.

Keeping social distance requires that one maintains a distance of one meter apart from each other in public. Unfortunately, the purpose of the social distancing has been defeated by the denizens who it was meant to protect. People are seen on daily basis going about their activities without regard for social distancing.

In recent times, various media tabloids report that social distancing is not observed in most markets in the country. The culprits transact their businesses in grotesque defiance of social distancing endangering lives of innocent people of contracting COVID-19. Upon query, some traders gave intangible excuses for their actions.

Some banks are also guilty of failure to ensure social distancing protocol outside their banking halls. While austere measure had been put in place to by these banks to protect customers once they enter the banking auditorium, little is done on the outside to safeguard the customers from the virus. Customers are seen standing or sitting close to each other in queues as they wait for their turn to enter the hall.

It would be recollected that the Minister for Communication, Mrs. Ursula Ekuful recently called for the cessation of proceedings at one of the offices of Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) for non-adherence to social distancing protocol outside their office. The call in my candid opinion was a step in the right direction as those offices are places where people mostly gather on daily basis to transact business and if such draconian measures are not taken, could be a major source of transmission of the virus.

Despite the ban on all sporting activities in the country, most striplings conversely gather in their respective neighbourhood to engage in footballing activities under the subterfuge of exercising. Some populace also gathers at vantage points in their various communities and neighbourhoods to indulge in indoor games such as draught, ludo, owari and card playing. These indoor games attract spectators who gather to watch people play creating a conducive atmosphere for the spread of coronavirus since most people do not adhere to the safety protocols especially social distancing.

Considering the infractions stated above, one can only surmise that the gospel of social distancing being preached to manacle the COVID-19 pandemic has not gone down well with the citizenry. It is therefore exigent that despotic measures are put in place to enforce compliance with social distancing protocol.

The following measures are therefore suggested to ensure compliance:

  • Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDA’s) have a major role to play. These Assemblies should embark on educational programs to sensitize market women to understand the rationale behind social distancing in controlling the spread of the virus. If defiance persists after sensitization, security personnel should be deployed to enforce compliance. Alternatively, the Assemblies can proceed to abolish the observation of special days as a market day to control social gathering in these markets.

  • Banks and other corporate institutions should ensure that social distancing is not only observed by customers when they enter their offices, but is also practiced outside as well.

  • The government through the MMDA’s should set-up special taskforce comprising of security agencies, the media, personnel from the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), and Environment Health and Sanitation Unit to track down recalcitrant striplings indulging in footballing activities as well as indoor games in defiance to social distancing.

  • Culprits apprehended should be made to undergo mandatory community service to clean-up refuse on the streets or better still desilt drainages in their respective communities. This will deter others from flouting social distancing protocol.

The fight against the perilous COVID-19 can only be won if we strictly adhere to all the laid down safety protocols. Together we can overcome the nemesis of COVID-19.

Ghana needs you alive! your loved ones need you alive!! Stay Safe!!!

Clement Kwarteng

[email protected]

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