The past few weeks have not been an easy journey for mankind, as the world is hit by an unseen ‘devil’. The Coronavirus which began as an endemic in Wuhan, a province of China has now become a major problem for the world. I have therefore decided to write on this issue which has become an invincible force for humankind to battle with.
I have chosen this title from a statement made by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo that “these are not ordinary times”. Why is this very moment of human life not an ordinary period for Ghana and the rest of the world? This article will explore the reasons.
Every individual living on this planet might have heard, read or listened to the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus, which has hit the world and brought out a lot of unplanned decisions and changes. The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan a province in China and later spread to the whole country. Before the disease became a pandemic, a lot of journalists especially in Europe and America reported it as first; Wuhan Coronavirus and second as Chinese Coronavirus. Little did the world know that later this deadly disease will become a pandemic to battle against. On 11th March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) led by its Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the disease a pandemic as the virus had moved from China to other parts of the world.
I have on several occasions asked myself these questions; did the disease take the world by surprise? Did we ever think that this was a Chinese issue? In response to the first question, I think this outbreak took us by surprise as the world was not ready and never imagined this outbreak will be the world’s problem. Responding to the second question, for me, I think we treated the issue as a Chinese problem forgetting that China is also part of the world. If the measures we are taking now were done earlier, we would have been better off by now. In part, we have ourselves to blame as we sat aloof to this issue thinking it was China’s problem. But can we continue with this blame game? No! Now the problem has faced us squarely, and we need to tackle it as never before.
The virus which is popularly referred to as COVID-19 by the WHO has spread to over 160 countries and still counting. The disease has affected over 470,000 people while more than 21,000 deaths have been recorded according to the WHO. These numbers keep increasing each minute. The world has not seen a disease spread faster than this COVID-19 and the drastic changes the world has seen. The only good news is that the rate at which it kills is slower compared with other killer diseases. It has a faster recovery rate as well.
Why are these times not ordinary times? The world has gotten to a stage where there seems to be a point of no return. It is almost as though the world has come to a standstill. Human Movements are being restricted as well as the gathering of people. There is a general feeling of uneasiness, fear, and panic. On the 12th of March 2020, Ghana reported its first case of COVID-19 as 2 foreign nationals were diagnosed with the disease. In exactly two weeks later the number had ballooned to over 100 cases with 5 casualties. From the look of things, these numbers will multiply in about a month as the country records cases daily.
Again, these are not ordinary times because even when you have the facilities and resources you seem not to conquer it. Per the statistics so far, it is the countries which are developed that are being hit hard. China which has now become a superpower, the United State of America, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany and Italy which leads in the death toll have suffered gravely from this pandemic. These countries are comparatively advanced in terms of health facilities than Ghana and any other African country, but the situation has given a headache to their heads of states. Their cases keep increasing exponentially each day.
Also, these are hard times because there have been lockdowns in most parts of the world. As the experts have said, the virus can only move when human beings move. Hence if there are no movements of people the virus cannot spread. Because of this, countries which have been affected badly and even those which are now experiencing a rise in their numbers have advised their citizens to remain home. China was the first country to have undergone a lockdown, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, the United Kingdom and some States in the United States are currently on lockdown. In Africa too, some countries like Rwanda and South Africa are under lockdown. Currently, Ghana is under partial lockdown. Some of the major towns affected are Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Kumasi. Before this announcement by the president on 27th March 2020 both the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had called for a nationwide lockdown. In the world now, a lot of schools have closed including schools in Ghana from nursery to tertiary. Both internal exams and external exams have been postponed as a result of this ‘invincible force.’
On 21st March 2020, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo declared the closure of Ghana's borders whether land, sea, or air to curtail the inflow of this virus. In addition to that, all persons coming into the country before midnight on Sunday 22nd March 2020 would go through a mandatory quarantine for 14 days in other to stop the spread of the virus. By the close of midnight 22 March 2020, 1030 people had come into the country and are currently under mandatory quarantine. Even though this directive was late, it has proven to be effective as most of our cases now seem to come from the mandatory quarantine people. I am not sure that under any normal circumstance, a government may allow its citizens to go through this kind of stress but the situation at hand has made it so. If the government does not do that then the whole country is put at risk. My question is, what about the dozens of people who came in before this declaration? Where have they taken the virus to if any of them have?
Again, no better economic activities are going on in the country as a lot of people are afraid to go out due to advice from experts. Our roads are empty, it is very difficult to see a lot of people and cars on the road. Some institutions have allowed their members to work from home to stop the spread of the virus. All forms of sporting activities both locally and internationally have been suspended indefinitely. These and many factors make these times, not an ordinary time. The world has not seen such a monumental change in its history. Not even the First World War and Second World War brought such a form of anxiety, fear, and panic to the world like this COVID-19.
Have we thought of the economic repercussion this pandemic is going to have on humans? Already people have started losing their jobs and there are still ongoing discussions of a possible layoff of workers. I know these consequences are inevitable. This will make people poorer and suffer. Honestly, when you think about the economic recession that will hit Ghana and the rest of the world after these hard times then you will know that these times are not ordinary times.
I feel for world leaders right now. None of these leaders would have ever wished for these dark days. You can see and feel their worries and frustrations anytime they address their citizens. The issue transcends facilities, infrastructure, and money. The enemy we are dealing with is an unseen one and it is very cumbersome dealing with such a force. I only believe and know that it is only God who can save His children from these dying moments.
One thing I will add is, as a country, we should not forget the “GOD FACTOR”. I have not said this to convince you to believe in God, but for me looking at the circumstances now, if we forget God then we have ourselves to blame. I have said on so many occasions that “this world belongs to somebody”. If we want to be healed from this pandemic, then we need to seek the face of God. Thanks to everyone who adhered to the admonition of the President and fasted and prayed on Wednesday, 25th March 2020. I am very confident that “by small and simple things” like this, God will heal us.
Let me take this opportunity to thank Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo for the prudent measures he and his team have taken to contain this heat and pressure especially with the way and manner they handle the communication. Even when the issue seems to be frightening, the way and manner, they go about it makes it bring peace and calm. Not also forgetting all the health professionals and experts who are working tirelessly to restore normalcy. On Friday 27th March as part of the announcement on the lockdown, Nana Addo set up a COVID-19 FUND which is aimed to support those who will be affected. He then said, "I have directed the Controller General to put my April, May, and June salary into the COVID-19 FUND." This man has really shown leadership at this critical time.
Can Ghana and the rest of the world bounce back from these devastating times? Yes, if citizens will abide by the guidelines which have been given by the experts and if various countries will continue to put in draconian measures in place such as a lockdown, and closing of borders, then we can end this fight. As I have indicated earlier, this is not the time to point fingers and accuse anyone. It’s about time we see ourselves as one people and bring our ideas onboard so to eradicate this COVID-19. In God we trust, and we shall overcome.
The world will bounce back stronger, Ghana must work again, Ghana will work again after this fight, YOUNG POSITIVIST, a concerned citizen of Ghana.
Author: SAMPSON BOAMAH ( [email protected] twitter: @YPOSITIVIST)