The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has joined calls for an immediate lockdown of the country to help track and reduce the spread of the coronavirus Pandemic.
General Secretary of the Association, Dr. Justice Yankson on Citi TV‘s Face to Face on Tuesday said despite the economic difficulties in the country, a lockdown of Ghana at this stage of the increased number of Coronavirus cases will curtail the spread of the disease.
He suggested a partial shutdown of the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions [ hotspots of the virus in Ghana ] where only essential service providers will be allowed to operate in order not to bring the life of the average Ghanaian to a standstill.
Dr. Yankson further warned that deferring the lockdown to a period of high number of cases will rather be detrimental to the country’s fight against the pandemic.
“One measure is to lockdown [the country]. The lockdown is to break the chain in community transmission. That is the essence of it. So the decision is whether to do it now when we have a relatively small number of cases or wait till we have the thousands. In my personal view, it is about time we did some partial lockdown. And what that means is for us to lock down the epicentres in our country now — Accra, Tema to be specific and Ashanti Region Region. We can decide to lock down these places and the exception will be for essential services to run in an attempt to stop the spread,” he told host, Godfred Akoto-Boafo.
“If we allow this to fester for too long and we end up with a lot of cases before we decide to go on the lockdown then what that will also mean is that we will potentially have people in the communities who may be spreading the disease among themselves because of our communal living and the lack of housing in this country. So it is about time that we take some quick decisions on the way forward. This will contain the disease in these two regions and spare the other 14 [regions]. People may talk about economic implications but the decision is to break transmission. If you do it now or later there will be still economic implications. So we should do it in such a way there are some essentials so that people can still live,” he added.
Ghana’s case count for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, March 24, 2020, is 53 with two deaths
According to the Health Service, a total of 1,030 persons are under mandatory quarantine.
A total of 844 of the quarantined individuals also had their samples taken for the necessary tests out which 510 had their samples tested for COVID-19.
Calls for lockdown
The increase in the number of cases has intensified calls on the government to urgently lock down the country as a means of escalating the country’s response to curbing the spread of the virus.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Bureau of Public Safety have both demanded that the government considers a total lockdown if necessary to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.
Former Health Minister, Joseph Yieleh Chireh wants the government to immediately lockdown Accra, Kumasi and put the necessary systems in place before the coronavirus situation in the country gets out of hand.
Meanwhile, international law and governance analyst, Kwame Mfodwo is warning that Ghana risks extreme starvation should it go into a complete lockdown now due to the rise in the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the country.
He said although a possible lockdown is bound to happen given the nature of the pandemic, Ghana is ill-prepared for such a moment in the short term because of its current economic situation.
“[A lockdown] is inevitable. The key issue is that we have to allow a lockdown that is defined and matches our context. I will say that, yes, we’ll actually go in for a lockdown. But as we sit here now, we can’t go into lockdown now in our current state because we can’t maintain it for more than three days or a week because people don’t have food and they will starve. But let’s be frank, we need a long term to say one month, six weeks, three months of a lockdown but we can’t actually do that immediately. But we can do a short term thing which we will then roll and improve on else it will not be sustainable.”
An effective lockdown, according to the government analyst, requires an extremely wide range of measures to support people.
He, therefore, admonished the government to come out with a comprehensive programme to address all aspects of lockdown before such a decision is announced.