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27.03.2020 Feature Article

COVID-19 Response: Is A Lockdown Necessary?

COVID-19 Response: Is A Lockdown Necessary?
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The outbreak of the Covid-19, a strain of corona viruses and its ensuring respiratory disease has led many nations to take necessary precautions in order that their citizens stay safe as well as prevent economic crisis. Initially, when the outbreak of the disease started in China, nations thought of it as a geographical problem rather than a global issue. After it was recorded that people had died from this disease, nations now felt the veracity of the matter thus, decided to take massive steps to help solve this global cancer.

Wuhan, China, the birthplace of this diseases put up emergency hospitals to help treat patients affected by this virus and now, minimal cases are recorded in China. Even with that a total of 81, 285 cases have been recorded. The official report as of March 26, 2020, 5:15 GMT according to the World Health Organization (WHO) also places the situation at 509, 477 cases worldwide with Italy, the worst hit by the crises recording a total of 80, 539 cases.

On 11th March, 2020, WHO declared Corona virus as a pandemic and since that day, many countries have implemented the observance of strict measures which include; self-isolation, social distancing, public education, the use of hand sanitizer, washing of hands, closure of public institutions, among other effective measures.

These measures have to a large extent helped in controlling the spread of the virus.

In Ghana, there is a public debate on a total lockdown of the country, especially, after the cases have increased to 132 in Kumasi and Accra. A lockdown will mean, closing our borders, avoiding mass travelling, staying indoors, and self-isolation, among other safer measures, to controlling the spread of disease.

This write-up will analyze the importance of a lockdown of the country and how it will help save the greater population as well as save the economy a lot of headache. However, there is the need to understand that a lockdown will not be fully positive and some negative implications include, economic hardships, social depression, etc. The question to ask is, if that is the way to help stop the spread of the virus, should it be adopted at that cost?

First, the lockdown will help in sustaining the economy. Countries rely on human resource and capital based drives to develop their economy. Even though arguments could be made that people, especially, commercial workers and traders will be deprived of their means of sustenance, the lockdown will help sustain the economy, as the government will use the money it has to cater for those who already have the virus and cut down cost for going through the stress to use the limited amount the nation has to be treating additional people who will contract the virus. It must be noted that the virus does not spread itself but it is humans who spread the virus, hence a lockdown will help stop the spread of the virus.

Currently, people have been quarantined in hotels and the government is responsible to cater for taking care of these people. Additional cases will mean a drain on the economy. Even though the average person surviving on the street will be affected, a lockdown will help protect that person since there will not be the need to be scared about getting the virus, thus, families will have peace of mind and will not think about using the little amount of money they have to cater for a member in future.

Again, a lockdown will help support and protect our health practitioners who are risking their lives to save those who have contracted the virus. “I am because we are and because we are, I am”, is a popular saying that shows the essence for caring and supporting one another and as this virus has hit the nation, now is the time to help support our health practitioners by staying home and if people are refusing to stay home, a lockdown is a better alternative to adopt in order that the virus will be controlled.

Without a lockdown, simply telling people to stay home would not suffice as there would always be a reason to go. With the possibility of a lockdown, people would be forced to stock essential goods and brace themselves for the upcoming week(s). This would also cater for the ‘not in my backyard’ mentality whereby people are not concerned about the spread of the virus until, through their lackadaisical carelessness, they finally contract it or have a close associate contract it.

China was able to deal with the spread effectively by quickly building makeshift quarantine hospitals and limiting travel and contact in Wuhan and the previously endemic provinces. Reactiveness is what helps the virus spread until our resources are so strained that we have to make the gut wrenching decision as to who to save and who to allow die, something that has scarred Italy and possibly would give them nightmares long after corona virus has gone.

Also, a lockdown is necessary and the best option for Ghana because of the structure of Ghanaian society and healthcare system. Most of our people in the peri-urban and rural areas have not, as of official reports today, contracted the virus. For those in the bigger cities like Accra and Kumasi, we can help them through quarantining and equipping places like KCCR and Nunguchi Memorial Institute. What is someone who contracted the virus in a small vicinity around Zabzugu-Tatale or Agotime-Kpetoe supposed to do? Typically, in this country, pregnant women die on their way to delivery due to poor roads and sometimes insanitary conditions. There are places in Central region, etc. where they still practice open defecation.

A simple case in any of these areas would present itself a public health disaster. If anything is to be learnt from History, in 1918, a similar pandemic, the Spanish Flu hit the shores of the then Gold Coast. The country was not shut down and business continued as usual. This lead to the death of about 100,000 people. Of course, the colonial governments cared more about the whites than they did us and the health systems were much more primitive, but the fact still remains that if the then governor has headed the caution of the governor of Sierra Leone then, the scale of death wouldn’t have been that high. A lockdown is necessary.

In conclusion, a lockdown is necessary to help stop the spread of the virus. If the government adopts a lockdown policy, it should also put in place proactive measures to help control the spread of the virus now and in future to safeguard the country. Is a lockdown necessary? Yes. Will it do the nation a great service? Definitely.

Aside measures the government and healthcare practitioners are putting in place to control the spread of Covid-19, we should stay safe and stay at home. Regardless of the enforcement of the lockdown, we are responsible for our own safety and that of others indirectly.

Jessica Afful Tuleassi
Jessica Afful Tuleassi, © 2020

The author has 2 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: JessicaAffulTuleassi

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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