I have silently observed with amazement how many Ghanaians of no mean status and credentials seem to praise sing the country’s efforts and for that matter the President’s at containing the spread of the pandemic. I am not against giving praise where it is due but I think largely most people have gone ahead of themselves to celebrate prematurely.
Ghana’s handling has largely been poor but we are unashamedly patting ourselves on the back amidst all the faltering.
First, every Ghanaian should remember that the country is at the war front. This war would be tortuous and no one should create the false impression that the battle is already won or it is over. The erroneous impression that the country has been able to contain the virus unfortunately has resulted in a situation where most people have thrown caution to the wind and they are living recklessly amidst the threat of the pandemic.
Second, contrary to popular view that Ghana has excelled at her handling of the pandemic, the virus unfortunately doesn’t seem tamed at all in Ghana. At least the scientific evidence doesn’t support containment of the virus. From the onset, we were told that the rigorous testing regime of the country means that the community spread was a remote possibility. All initial cases were imported which necessitated quarantine and contact tracing. However, as of 30-04-2020, Ghana’s case count stood at 2074 with 17 deaths and 212 recoveries. This suggests that all is not well with Ghana’s approach to dealing with the pandemic since local case count constitutes over 90% of the total case count.
Again, before Ghana recorded her first COVID-19 cases, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Togo and Nigeria had had cases already but today Ghana’s case count outweighs all of these countries by a huge margin. Yes, Ghana is unique in her orientation, approach circumstances and population dynamics but the fact remains that Ghana needs to stem the tide of community spread.
Moreover, Ghana took a fatal gamble by lifting the partial lockdown earlier than expected. Once Ghana is not going for total nationwide lockdown, Ghana should urgently implement targeted lockdowns of specific areas considered hot spots of the pandemic. Government needs to condon off hot spots for effective testing and treatment immediately. Parts of Greater Accra, Greater Kumasi and Eastern Region among others should be under strict lockdown without further hesitation.
In addition, Government and health service communication should be managed well otherwise they could mislead Ghanaians to think all is well when it is not the case. In furtherance of the “Spread Calm and not Fear” mantra, most of the press conferences have sought to paint a rosy picture where Ghanaians are told not to panic because everything is under control since community spread is contained. We have been told many times Ghana is ahead of the virus because Ghana is leading in testing in Africa. However, the fact that Ghana’s case count keeps rising should be enough to make every Ghanaian apprehensive. Currently, only four out of the sixteen regions are COVID-19 free.
Finally, many Ghanaians are still living in the fool’s paradise especially when you look at people’s attitude towards the pandemic. State agencies responsible for educating the citizeny must sit up and do more. In fact, many erroneously think lifting of the partial lockdown means they are free to do whatever they were doing before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana.
Amidst all of these lapses, we should all beware as Ghanaians. Let’s all exercise extra caution especially in the public place. Let’s stay distant from others, wear our facemasks, do regular hand washing and avoid crowded places. Ghana should prepare for the worst but expect the best outcome in her quest to dealing with COVID-19 pandemic.
(CLEMENT ADJEI SARFO, THE CRUSDAER, firstname.lastname@example.org)