I salute you for the efforts and strategies rolled out to help Ghana fight this existential pandemic called COVID-19. It has an incubation period of 14 days and any strategy that can be effective in two periods (28 days) should kick out the virus from Ghana.
In this era, long write-ups are unattractive to the tensed minds particularly people in leadership positions who must show the way and move all of us along. I can't therefore afford but to go straight into the details.
It's important to note that a single confirmed case in a country if unchecked can lead to about 3500 cases within a week.
Your Excellency, in this scenario of fighting the pandemic in our own way respecting WHO protocols you opted for a *Partial Lockdown*(PL) This step is very much appreciated and should be appreciated by all.
You went for *PL* after recording 137 confirmed cases with 97% of these cases being imported. The compulsory quarantine of 1030 passengers who arrived on 22nd March 2020 has so far given us 78 confirmed cases. Those who arrived in Ghana before 22nd March are all in the system unknown and/or unmonitored and that's where we have the real danger. Your earlier directive/advisory on self-isolation had no effective monitoring mechanism and arriving passengers were left to their own conscience to either stay strictly to the protocols or do otherwise. I have followed a little on the Juaso incident and won't want to make any further comments on it but to say, that case has raised the red flag. May the soul of the departed rest in perfect peace. Also, the single confirmed case in Wa, UWR and its serious replica effect cannot be overemphasized.
The 48-hour notice given before the PL created a sense of uneasiness and many at the markets and various shopping centres did not seem to be aware of the need for Social Distancing. There was a mass rush to stock stuff in preparation for the PL.
This mass rush in our markets, in particular, is a fertile ground for the virus to spread. Many were shopping to relocate to other towns and villages outside the lockdown area. What it simply means is that people are shifting away from PL so as to continue to enjoy their freedoms in unlocked areas which is not illegal and cannot be stopped.
If we need to arrest the spread, people must be made to stay put.
Your Excellency, I want to believe the PL is to test the waters and prepare the nation for a Total Lockdown (TL). Analysing the potential effect of PL, it makes a lot of sense to follow it up with a TL within 72 hours from the beginning of PL. This will ensure that all those who moved to other areas in the country stay put. Let's fight the virus and not the people.
The following are recommended should you agree on an addendum to stretch the PL to a TL;
1. All sick persons within the TL period must receive free and compulsory medical care. All the sick must be taken through COVID-19 Test. This is an option for stratified mass testing.
2. The Security Services expected to be at their professional best will collaborate and coordinate with the Chiefs as well as Regional&District Medical Teams to pick out the sick for free medical attention. All government workers be paid a month salary advance.
3. After PL or TL period, if the number of suspected/confirmed cases will permit, they should be centralised for concentrated attention with all our national might.
4. Office of the National Chief Imam, Catholic Bishops Conference & Office of the Chairman of the Pentecostal & Charismatic Council should be encouraged to design temporary social intervention strategies to support the physical needs of their members at least for the TL period. COVID-19 will unite Denominations and reduce doctrinal tensions. United national prayers recommended.
5. Engage the Herbal & Traditional Healers Association. The solution to the world's deadliest pandemic could come from Ghana.
6. COVID-19 Fund proposed is a good move but be careful Your Excellency not to create a perception of a Family COROBUSINESS.
7. A TL should be customized to prevent inter but not an intra-community movement. All Ambulances and government vehicles should be put in regional pools to help manage the essential movements of citizens.
There is a divine reason limiting me to these 7 recommendations.
May God continue to make our country great and strong. Together, we shall overcome. This one too shall pass.
I'm humbled for the opportunity to have your attention, Your Excellency. Ghana first.
Supt (Rtd) Peter L Toobu
Wechiau, Wa West District, UWR