Coronavirus (COVID-19) which was discovered in Wuhan, China has now spread to developed and developing countries across the globe. Persons infected with this virus present with cough, sore throat, and fever. Currently, with no identified vaccine for the disease, preventive measures stand as the gold standard. Recommended preventive measures by the World Health Organization include hand hygiene, covering mouth with tissue anytime you cough or sneeze and maintenance of social distance.
The rate at which this virus is spreading irrespective of measures put in place is worrying. Italy so far is still recording the highest cases of about 7438 with over 7,503 deaths. Ghana is not left out; it has so far recorded 132 cases with 3 deaths.
As part of measures to prevent and contain the Virus, countries are encouraged to adopt context-specific mechanisms to prevent the spread of the infection. For instance, France, China, Italy, and others have resorted to locking down their countries as part of preventing the spread of the virus. This seems to have worked for some of the countries like China through Italy is still battling with the increasing number of cases and deaths.
Ghana so far has also implemented some interventions by closing down all schools and other public places such as churches, mosques, and quarantining all people coming into the country from high-risk nations. Despite these interventions by the Ghana government, new cases are being diagnosed almost every day.
Should Ghana consider a total lockdown? Would the lockdown of the country be the best option for Ghana now? Are we prepared for it? Many Ghanaians now living in fear are making a clarion call on the President of the Republic to Lockdown the nation as way of preventing further spread of Covid-19. Since no effort should be spared in trying to prevent the spread of the virus, careful evaluation of interventions with country or context-specific issues must be weighed in order not to create a far bigger problem for our nation.
A total lockdown of Ghana without adequate preparation, in my opinion, will lead to what I call the “Hunger Virus”. Countries like France and Italy have a stable economy where individuals have got savings to depend on as their countries are being locked down. Besides, their governments are supporting the citizens with food, rents, water, and other social amenities during this lockdown period.
However, in Ghana where people live ‘hand to mouth’, thus, depending on their daily income to feed themselves and families, how will the population survive for the period of this lockdown? We live in a country where many depend on public toilets, public boreholes, wells and streams for their water supply. As a nation, are we ready to support less privileged during this lockdown?
Most Ghanaians are self-employed and others working with private companies. A large number of the Ghanaian population cannot survive without their individual jobs. Who provides for them during the period of stay at home? What are the strategies we are putting in place before we embark on the lockdown of our country? These are some of the factors that may make Ghana’s situation different and difficult from other countries when it comes to locking down of the country.
Covid-19 currently is no respecter of persons. It affects both the rich and the poor and so everyone is interested in stopping its spread. However, if adequate measures are not put in place before a lockdown, hunger will now turn into a “virus” and kill majorly children and the poor in society.
Though I support a lockdown of the country to prevent further spread of the disease, I strongly entreat the government to put together a strong support plan for the vulnerable in our society. If we have no choice but to use the Heritage Fund, National reserves, and others, so be it! PREVENT COVID-19 NOW; WASH YOUR HANDS!