The world is on edge currently due to the declaration of the Coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, as “a pandemic”, by the World Health Organisation (WHO) following its spread worldwide across multiple continents.
What started as a problem in Wuhan town of China in December last year has now affected at least 120,000 people with over 4,000 deaths in 109 countries and territories – the figure keeps changing by the hour.
Aside Wuhan which has been on lockdown, Italy which has about 60 million people including a significant number of Ghanaians, has also been on lock down while fear has gripped Germany and many other countries.
Flights are being cancelled, some schools have shut down, sport leagues have been suspended, shops are running out of supplies and even greetings have changed – all because of the virus.
Although the outbreak has been minimal in Africa, more than 100 cases, mostly negative, have been recorded in Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire and Togo.
All countries have put in place measures to avert an outbreak and contain it if it happens and Ghana cannot be left out, especially when over 50 suspected cases have been recorded so far. The country is equally at risk.
We find reassuring the decision by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to release $100 million to enhance the country’s preparedness and response plan towards the disease.
The amount is to fund expansion of infrastructure, purchase of materials and equipment and public education in addition to further enhancements of the protocols for in-bound traffic from already affected countries
Already the government has suspended all international travels by public officials, except for critical assignments and has urged Ghanaians “as much as possible, desist from all foreign travels, except the most critical ones, until there is a grip on the virus.”
Now that the government has put in place measures to protect us, it is up to us the citizenry to play our part by adhering to the precautionary measures announced by the WHO.
They include observing the basic preventive behaviour, including washing our hands regularly with soap, using alcohol-based sanitisers, stopping shaking of hands and avoiding unnecessary close body contact.
At this critical time, we cannot leave these measures to chance because of the nature of life in the country. We love to gather for many social events including church services, funerals, and weddings, amongst others.
Our markets, public transports and schools are such that it is difficult to avoid body contacts.
But we must try because our lives depend on it. If we can avoid the spread of the disease in the country we must go all out and ensure personal safety.