Ghana among the community of nations affected by the deadly Covid-19 pandemic is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to contain and well manage the rapid spread of the pandemic. With a total case count of 152, 5 deaths and 2 recoveries, the country had instituted some measures aimed at fighting the Covid-19. So far the prevalence of the pandemic in Ghana is concentrated in and around Accra, Tema, and Greater Kumasi. There are also cases currently being confirmed at Wa and Tamale. This should call for serious efforts by all to ensure that the pandemic do not traverse these areas to other regions. The restriction of the movement of people (partial lockdown) of the Accra, Tema, Greater Kumasi and Kasoa and its environs ordered by the president on Friday 28th March 2020 to ensure the proper management of the pandemic is a step in the right direction but the time lapse between the announcement and its enforcement to me should present a serious course for worry to all.
The order leave a yawning gap of 48 hours to allow for many citizens who had succumbed to fear and panic to escape from the hither to be locked areas to places not included just to avoid the restriction of movement. Many towns like HO, Hohoe, Takoradi, Takwa, Sunyani, Sefwi Wiawso, Bibiani, Keta, Aflao, Tamale, Kintampo, Nkoranza, Wa and Bolgatanga among others are within the free for all allowable 48hours from the announcement to the effective date of the order of the partial lock down are flooded with people from Kumasi, Accra, Tema and Kasoa who are trying to escape the lock down. What this means is that, potential carriers of the Covid-19 virus from these affected areas that are been restricted would freely transport and transfer it to areas not yet affected by the pandemic.
Again the order exempted food vendors, construction and mine workers, fisher folks etc. To me we rather do not announce any restrictions at all because about 50—60% of the population of the areas restricted or partially locked down are make-up of these category of people and so the impact of the restriction would be very minimal if any.
People in the not affected areas are now leaving in fears since they cannot tell who among the escapees are habouring the virus and would infect others with it. Authorities in these areas are now being confronted with another hurdle of how to identify these Covid-19 intercity returnees for screening and testing. If care is not taken the good intention by the President to limit the spread and contain the virus would rather culminate into its wider spreading.
Unless there are other measures to track and screen those fleeing or who had already fled the partial lock down to be able to identify suspected cases isolate them and test term for the virus I am tempted to believe that at the of the day many areas yet to report or pick a suspected case would be reporting so and more so even get conformed ones.
Another way we can also help to mitigate the impact of the escapees on the innocent locals is to enforce strict surveillance by our health staffs and also encourage community volunteerism on the whereabouts of returnees to the locality within the last 48hours for contact tracing by the surveillance teams within those jurisdictions.
The security agencies in the yet to be affected areas should also put in both persuasive measures to encourage the locals to report any returnee to them for assessment by health professional or returnees to volunteer themselves for assessment.
One can only hope that with the lock down fully coming into effect today, 30th March 2020, the trouble of panic intercity travels would seize and the situation would normalize.
Let us all fight Covid-19 together as one nation with one people having a one common destiny.
MBA, BSc, chPA, CMC, GDip; L&Mgt in Health- WU
Head of Administration- Tarkwa Municipal Hospital