Coronavirus also known as COVID-19 is affecting 197 countries and territories around the world. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the disease. The COVID-19 virus according to experts spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that everyone practices respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).
At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments.
Ghana as a Sovereign State recorded its first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on 12 March 2020, when two people returned from Norway and Turkey respectively. Within an interval one week and six days, Ghana has recorded 52 confirmed cases with 2 deaths. This has gotten a lot of Ghanaians talking and has called on the government to impose stricter restriction measures which include a total LOCKDOWN.
The government on its part has outlined several measures to help curb the spread of the disease. At first, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, on the 11 March made the cedi equivalent of $100 million available to enhance Ghana's coronavirus preparedness and response plan.
The opposition NDC has however described the move by the government as a scam. President Nana Akufo-Addo further banned all public gatherings including conferences, workshops, funerals, festivals, political rallies, church activities and other related events to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at a press briefing on the state of COVID-19. Basic schools, senior high schools and universities, both public and private, have also been closed. On 23 March 2020, the markets in the Greater Accra Region were disinfected through a spraying exercise.
On that same day, all beaches were closed to help contain the spread of the pandemic. All of the county's borders were closed for a fortnight from midnight of Sunday the 22nd of March 2020. Citizens have been advised to adhere to strict precautionary measures outlined by experts around the world.
Despite all this measures put in place, the numbers are still in the rise and the million Cedis question every Ghanaian is asking is, what are we not doing right as a country?. Well to correctly answer this question, one would have to compare the measures put in place by other countries who have recorded low cases or whose cases are not in the rise.
Wuhan which has a population close to 11 million went on total lockdown. The Lockdown was later extended to the entire Hubei Province which saw almost close to 50 million people in lockdown for two months. Only industries providing essential services were allowed to operate. One person from each household were allowed to go shopping for the entire house. One would probably need clearance from authorities before you can be allowed to go out. India is on Nationwide lockdown with over 1.5 billion population.
Self quarantine and mass testing has been one of the key measures used by developed countries to help reduce the spread. Testing has been made so assessable in these countries to an extent that people can test from home. In South Korea for instance, people has been seen willingly in to health centres to be tested. Test results are ready within 15 minutes with accurate results. Laboratories are designated to perform specific research on Coronavirus. In China, isolation and treatment centres have been built in less than a month to tackle the pandemic. People in the developed world have been well informed on COVID-19 so they’re providing essential information to deal with the situation. People don’t lie about their travel histories and people they have been in contact with. Advices from Doctors are taken seriously. Infected persons gets isolated from the masses.
Automobile companies have all moved in to the production of PPEs and ventilators to help confront the situation. Prices of PPEs have either remained the same or been reduced for everyone to get access. No hoarding of PPEs are reported in these developed countries.
Many countries in Europe are providing Stimulus and insurance packages to their citizens and companies to assist them during this period.
The US Senate has pass a $ 2 trillion Nationwide bill to fight spread of the virus by propping up affected businesses and relief to households during this period.
Is Ghana ready for a lockdown?
After the forgoing developments across the world, the question that still linger in mind is whether Ghanaians are prepared for what they are calling for; Total Lockdown. Admittedly, I have never witnessed a Lockdown and I know most Ghanaians have not either. The closest I have experience is a Curfew popularly referred to as “Obia ko Da” in Ghanaian lexicon. In the year 2002, the whole of Dagbon kingdom was thrown in to a state of curfew. I was only ten years old but I was old enough to keep the memories till this day. I remember how angry Soldiers unleashed their anger on civilians who were just mere victims of circumstance. Most people never knew what had caused this feud but victimised by Soldiers who were asked to ensure sanity by the state. I remember how I and my siblings were forced to sleep at a time and chickens still outside roosting. Evening meals were prepared and eaten long before the sun sets. Businesses were closed earlier than usual, evening Arabic studying was brought to an abrupt end. No matter your status, state or situation, you will will receive the beatings of your life if you are found outside during the curfew period. People Life stocks were missing here and there but even with clear evidence against hungry soldiers extorting livestocks for their evening meal, you there not point fingers at them because we were not in normal times. This was a dust till dawn curfew which was subjected to a review depending on the situation at stalk. Curfew is anything I don’t ever wish to experience again.
Lockdown as we are told is one of the measures been used by most countries to help avoid the spread of coronavirus. People are made to work from home, schools, shops and restaurants are virtually closed. No one is allowed to be out at all time. Living an ordinary life during times of emergencies like this demand active prioritisation in the face of draconian military junta restrictions on movement and associations.
But Ghanaian authorities will have to do more than their European counterparts in other to enforce a total lockdown. And taking the recent disregard for the police force in our country, the government will have to call in the Arm Forces in other to enforce it if it would be considered. I don’t know how much Ghanaians can stockpile their homes with basic necessities such as water, electric power, toiletries food stuffs etc and how long will it last if even we are able to stockpile. Most Ghanaians live by hand to mouth meaning they have to work before they can eat and only God knows what will happen to these group or class of Ghanaians if a Total Lockdown is reach. No one knows how long this novel virus will stay with us but we pray it leave us as quick as possible. And how could I have forgotten of the homeless Ghanaians?. Ghanaians who have no were to call home but pays taxes.
Our problem is a pregnant one and we wish coronavirus leave us now or else we will be expose big time. Our mega budgets can’t provide us with stimulus packages as we see in abroad. Our already distressed Health Insurance Scheme can’t insure our health if we are Lockdown with coronavirus. Our National Buffer Stock and State wear houses doesn’t have enough food to provide to us if what we intend to stockpile rundown. Farmers will prefer to keep their products for their families rather than those who wish to buy. Retailers will hoard their products for higher profits if we all go out of stock. I don’t know how those who be imposing a lockdown on us will decide to do it, but I believe it is gonna be difficult looking at our nature as a country. I wish we won’t get there. Plans must be put in place help everyone including families with less or limited domestic resources to draw upon if a lockdown is ever considered.
We can’t fight this unforeseen enemy without a Supreme God intervention. This is a time for us to turn away from our wicked ways, humble ourselves, lower our pride and turn up to our pray maker to fight this battle for us. Ghana is a religious state and the lines of National Anthem begins with God. We can’t do this alone because this virus has proven to be stronger than mankind across the world. Doctors and Scientists across the world have tried to find a cure for this virus but all efforts has proven futile. Nothing is beyond God’s control and we must commit this fight into the hands of God.
As a Muslim, the Holy Qur’an in 02:186 teaches me and I quote: “And when my servants ask you(O Muhammed), Concerning Me, Indeed I am near, I respond to the Invocation of the supplicants when they call upon me. So let them respond to me (By Obedience) and believe in Me that they may be rightly guided.” We must commit our frontline fighters in this battle into the hands of God, God should touch the hearts of our leaders to take decisions that will help this Nation out of this plague, and lets all go on our knees and cry to our maker to save us from this evil virus.
We have always come out stronger at the end of every struggles and COVID-19 will not take us down. We shall triumph over this in no time. But as we fast and pray, let’s still practice the safety precautionary measures outlined by experts across the world. Until a divine Cure is found,Social distancing, the use of alcohol base hand sanitisers and washing our hands with soap under running water is all we have for now.