Ghana recorded her first case of COVID-19 on March 12, 2020, which was communicated to the citizenry as “imported cases” by the state officials. As concerned citizens and not spectators, some of us believed that would cause our government to put in place strict measures to keep the number of cases low or insignificant, i.e. stay at two. Humans aren’t stationary objects and this virus spreads from person to person as they come into contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. It is therefore credible to infer that all persons who made contact with these people could be infected (i.e. right from passengers on the used airline, contacts made in the terminals with other passengers, his chauffeur or cab driver from the airport and even the innocent street hawker he had to quickly purchase a new handkerchief from). However, unfortunately there came subsequent imports of COVID-19 cases after these two and increased as much as reaching sixteen cases as at March 20, 2020, |9:45 GMT according to the Ghana health service (GHS) with about 3 cases having no travel histories and hence logical to conclude they are local transmissions gotten from person to person contacts or contact with contaminated surfaces. It feels like the Government is taking how severe this could get lightly. In the first place, I strongly believe these cases, could have been prevented like it is being done in other African countries like Uganda. Ghana anticipating a possible case should have put in place strict measures considering the economic and social consequences of the global enemy being epidemic. Regardless of these recorded cases, Government seems to be doing so little in fighting COVID-19 and hence I would like to suggest some strict measures that should be implemented because the lives of the Ghanaian people in this critical times is more important than the country’s reputation in the international community if that’s the reason Ghana does not want to learn from Uganda and the other nations who have put in strict and robust measures.

Firstly, I would like to suggest the close down of all sea and air ports to passenger ships and planes respectively. Regardless of the economic gains like revenue being generated from these vehicles paying various types of taxes and bringing tourists or prospective investors, this is definitely not the time. Also, cargo ships and planes that would have businesses to do with or through our various ports should have their crews under close supervision or with limited movement especially, they shouldn’t be allowed to move outside the borders of the ports. I know a good government should be concerned about her citizens whether they are outside the country or within but this is definitely not the time for citizens who have been to other infected nations and cannot tell if they were exposed to the virus or not should be allowed entry at the risk of the inland majority. If it is a must that those citizens need to return, I think it is best for them to be isolated under supervision by the Ghanaian embassy in that country and if showing no signs of COVID-19 after the estimated 14 days, a chartered plane should be used in sending them home.

Secondly, with the existing cases and with regards to some being local cases, I would like to state that I have no idea on how the Ghana Health Service (GHS) is carrying out the contact tracing but I believe it’s a very difficult task and I say keep up the good work, but I believe there are limitations to this hard work where some contacts would be untraceable. With this regard, this difficulty can be reduced if the full identities of these patients are made known and not just their ages, gender and travel history. That way, people who know them and might have been in contact with them lately and hence prone to the virus can voluntarily come out to reduce the risk of spread especially when they’ve been untraceable by the system put in place by the GHS.

Moreover, regional hospitals or all major hospitals in each region should be equipped to run tests on suspected coronavirus cases. This can go a long way of reducing the burden of the only two facilities (NMIMR and KCCR) running the test and also aid in early detection since samples would not have to be put on hold for others to be finished first. Thirdly, I’ll encourage the use of E-cash within this period to help reduce the rate at which this could spread considering the transmission via contaminated surfaces and how high we depend on currency notes for transactions.
Also, to call on the various Telcos to temporarily scrape off or reduce drastically the charges on MOMO transactions and not take this opportunity to capitalize as in the case of prices of hand sanitizers skyrocketing overnight as a result of demand exceeding supply. That was just rational according to economics but also the surges were exorbitant on the part of greedy and arrogant businessmen who do not know their risk of infection is also dependent on the inability of the average Ghanaian to afford one to use while on the move.

In the fourth point, we know Ghana is subdivided into regions with defined boundaries or borders and hence it’ll just be timely if inter-regional movement is discouraged for now. Imagine the number of possible cases that would come from an untraced infected person travelling by road from Accra to the North and as he travelled, he was paying road tolls and buying food and other items normally along the road! Where inter-regional movement is necessary, patronizing the public transport services from terminals where proper ticketing should be encouraged such that not only car numbers are made available on tickets but passenger information (names and phone numbers) is taken by station masters and kept when there’s the need to contact all passengers in the case of contact tracing. 

Furthermore, just like Dale Carnegie once said, “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion…” I believe this necessitates the need to seriously use our security agencies to ensure the measures put in place are strictly being obeyed by the people but not by the use of brute force. It wouldn’t be wise on our side to wait for things to get worst like in France and Italy before we make use of these agencies to check basic measures like social distancing. I believe these few reasons among others that other concerned citizens might have, when implemented would go a long way to stop the spread of the virus.
 Edmund E. Terkpernor, 
March 20, 2020,
Cape Coast. 

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