Ghana like many other countries in the African sub-region have begun to experience some cases of the novel Corona Virus (CoVid-19). As at 23rd March, 2020, the worldwide confirmed cases of the COVID-19 were 339,645 with 226,088 existing cases, 98,840 recovered cases and 14,717 deaths. In Ghana, the total confirmed cases as at the said date was 27; with an existing case of 25, zero recoveries and 2 deaths.
The majority of the cases confirmed were imported cases. However, the nation's trajectory about the COVID-19 changed when the country recorded some community spread cases on 20th March, 2020. This development shook the country and aroused panic in the country. Subsequently, the government of Ghana instituted the closure of all points and ports of entry into Ghana. This intervention may appear to be the most appropriate course of action to the country. However, many have made calls for a total lockdown of the country for about 2-3 weeks. This article therefore seeks to explore the possibility of a total lockdown for Ghana and the need for it.
Lockdown, as defined by the Cambridge dictionary, is the confinement of people in their own rooms as a security measure after a disturbance. Conceptualizing this to the outbreak of the COVID-19, lockdown can be described as the confinement of the population to the homes or rooms following the COVID-19 which has become a matter of national security. Following the outbreak of the COVID-19, countries such as China, Italy, Sweden, etc. have all instituted a total lockdown as a means of reducing the spread of the disease and mitigating it effects on the health system.
In Africa, South Africa on the 23rd of March, 2020 have also instituted a total lockdown. In the same vein, Rwanda and Uganda have all lockdown. Now, in the Ghanaian context, there have been several calls for a lockdown yet the government seems adamant to institute a lockdown. This may probably be because of the weak social support system and weakened economy of the country to contain a lockdown. However, the big question is that do we wait as a country to get to the situation of Italy and Spain before we institute a lockdown?
The answer to this question is a BIG NO. Ghana as it stands now has a very weakened health system that cannot handle a wide spread of the COVID-19. The health system will be totally overwhelmed when this disease gets out of hand. There are not enough testing kits in the country as of this time; protective equipment and isolation centers are woefully inadequate to contain a wide spread of the disease. For that matter, there is the need for a lockdown to be instituted so that we are able to control the spread of the COVID-19 in Ghana. The main issues that have contributed to the high mortality rate as a result of COVID-19 in the Western world are their demography and also the fact that they delayed to lockdown, hence, overwhelming the health system. Ghana cannot afford to get to that level.
A case in point is Uganda. The Ugandan government initiated a total lockdown in the country when they had 1 case of the COVID-19. Till date, their number of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 still remains at 1. This clearly shows the power of a total lockdown in reducing the spread of the disease in order not to overwhelm the health care system. Hence, Ghana must initiate a lockdown as soon as possible.
There have been arguments that the economy of Ghana cannot contain a lockdown. There is a huge social inequality in the country that may not facilitate the achievement of the goals of a lockdown. However, I strongly believe that this should not be an impediment to the decision to initiate a lockdown. Whatever, the case may be, this country will surely get to the point where there will be the need for a lockdown. As the cases escalate and hit the thousands, the country will be forced to initiate a lockdown. Hence, why don't we prevent ourselves from getting to this point where we will have little control over the disease by initiating a lockdown now? It is therefore better for us to take the bitter pill now and look as though we were Nazi Ghana than for us to keep up with this gradualist system which will lead to more mortality and morbidity.
The government should begin to educate and encourage the population to begin to start keeping stock of essential products like foods, pain killers, etc. Secondly, the various stakeholders like the CSOs and NGOs should partner with the government to purchase more testing kits in order to initiate mass testing during the periods of a lockdown. This will help to easily identify cases and contain them. In order for the lockdown to be effective, the government but marshal all of its military and legislative powers to ensure compliance for the good of the population. NAZI Ghana is for the good of the public. Lockdown now!
Author: Mr. Joshua Okyere