The outbreak of novel coronavirus continues to send families, communities, nations into a state of mourning as death tolls continue to rise. The situation has hit Great economies including, USA, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the likes. Although Africa is widely considered as a fragile region, the spread of the virus has not gotten out of hands, with South African recording almost Thousand cases, majority of the African countries are still in double digits with Ghana, Egypt exceeding a hundred cases.
However, the most impoverished region of the continent – Africa including Ghana continue to engage in political gimmicks and only waiting on donor cash to commit resources in battling the pandemic. Ghana has brought this virus upon ourselves. Why should we know that persons coming from elsewhere like China with high records of cases are allowed into the country? They have not been comprehensive preparedness plans and this has finally led to the import of COVID- 19.
The spread of the pandemic to Ghana is an opportunity for us to show solidarity and unity of purpose devoid of partisans, ethnic fragmentation, sentiments would not allow the pandemic to defeat us. If the government continues to be too considered on the plights of the vulnerable masses and refuse the appeal of a lockdown, it should bear in mind that, in hard times though decisions are the best way to deal with crises. The position of our political leadership is comical. It is now that we are beginning to realize that; more Ghana is living from hand to mouth; lack access to water, improved sanitation, shelter and nutrition. We have a mandate to pull them along rather than widen the inequality gap as a country. When have we began to care; should we say that lessons from COVID – 19 is refreshing as it made the government acknowledged the fact that, it has failed the Ghanaian populace.
Let me reiterate that no one is a prophet of doom and calling to be in self-imprisonment (lockdown), it is a matter of urgency and we cannot be negligent likes Italy who in 25th February recorded less than 10 cases and are now the worse hit country with over 8000 death toll. A country with an improved health care system than Ghana is paying a heavy price by sitting on the fence.
With over 100 cases recorded so far, the experts are right to caution Ghana as we brace ourselves towards hard times. The appeal by the Ghana Medical Doctors Association calling on lockdown is in the right direction. The question now is if lockdown becomes a necessary option, would the plight of the poor masses situation change overnight? The answer is obviously no. Let us make sacrifices before we regret our actions. Sierra Leon has not recorded any case and Mali recording only Two cases yet they have been lockdown. The best approach is to act before the situation gets out of hand. The potential explosion of cases could be easily brought under control if the movement is restricted. Let me be quick to add that, Ghana is already on a partial lockdown with schools, Churches and Mosque closed down. We could as a country design our own model of lockdown and containment strategy;
1. Preventing inter-regional and inter-district travel bans.
2. Essential services including VRA/ NEDCo, big supper markets, community provisions shops, GWC, hospitals, Clinics, Security agencies, and Water Companies should remain operational
3. Gathering of more than 5 people should not be encouraged
4. Spot fine of GH$500.00 if a group are found to flat the laws
5. Established COVID- 19 Regional, District and Electoral Area surveillance committee to intensify monitoring, contact tracing, transfer to isolation centers, screening, and transport for testing.
6. The Regional hospital must be well equipped to conduct testing of COVID- 19
7. Volunteers should quickly be trained and despatched to carry out house to house sensitization on COVID- 19; on sign and symptoms, behaviour changes and other precautionary measures
8. The should be a hierarchal coordinating and reporting of progress through a bottom-up approach and top-down approach.
9. The information service department, NCCE, environmental Health Units of the MMDAs should be in the for the front in champion the campaign against COVID- 19
10. Mass testing, isolation, quarantine, surveillance, case management, reporting and coordination should be intensified.
The conduct of the Ministry of Information in updating the country has become under scrutiny. Why should we get to be informed through external bodies of WHO on Ghana case count before the information ministry would decide to inform us whenever it chooses? It that the government is trying to under-report our case count? At this moment we need reactiveness in dealing with the situation.
The escalation of COVID – 19 in northern Ghana, especially with Upper West and Upper East would be disastrous. This is because our borders are so porous. My checks at the Lawra Municipality revealed that border communities are not sensitized and for that matter they allow foreign nationals to use those unapproved roads to get into the country. This must be checked and by so doing the leadership within the border communities must be brought on board to be on the guard.
We still have an opportunity to deal with the situation before it gets out of hands; it is time for the government to widen its scope and listen to all quarters in our society and designed a better integrated comprehensive strategy to deal with the outbreak of COVID- 19. We cannot rule out the fears that vertical cases of communities and households are very minimal since mass testing is not carried out. Also, a complete lockdown of our airport would prevent the increase of horizontal cases that are mostly imported.
While we continue to appeal to the government to be stricter and proactive in dealing with the pandemic. A concerted effort is required with all stakeholders on board. We must continue to adhere to social distancing, practice regular hand washing, report immediately to the health facilities if one shows signs and symptoms of COVID- 19 including coughing, struggling to breathe and vomiting.
May Allah Save Us from this Trying Times!!!
Author; Tahiru Lukman
Email: [email protected]
Position; Youth Activist, Dev't Consultant & Pan- African Writer