I have heard the saying that, in every adversity there is an opportunity to capitalize on.
This quote is making sense to me now in the wake of the global COVID-19 as some fortunes, human-centred policies, behavioural change, innovative ideas and appreciation of our shortfalls as a country can be achieved irrespective of the deaths recorded as a result of the pandemic.
Even though by now a lot of people have heard about the new Coronavirus, popularly called COVID-19, for the purposes of emphasis, I will share some information about this deadly virus which has claimed millions of lives globally, including the myth about the virus in order to create public awareness.
Upon second thought, I think by now Ghanaians are aware of the virus (COVID-19) but I am not sure they are educated by the media enough to know the seriousness of the virus and I am tempted to blame it on the fact that a myth has been attached to the facts about the virus via social media users.
Again, I can blame the lack of education on COVID-19 on the authorities who at the initial stage were supposed to have educated the masses about it. Maybe they can also be pardoned simply because they didn’t have much information to educate the public on.
The media couldn’t help either with the education because they were not privy to information on which they would educate their audiences as authorities only shared with the media houses scanty information or those that they deemed fit to be shared with the public by the media and such delay in accurate reportage on the virus paved way for speculations and fairytales on social media.
Our medical experts and its allies who are suppose to engage the already frightened public with timeous and accurate discourse were themselves caught in the web of uncertainty and were unsure of the genetic mutation of the virus owing to its novelty and were heavily relying on medical literature by other biochemists.
In fact, the Special Advisor to President Akufo-Addo who doubles as the former Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare said on Okay FM’s Ade Akye Abia Morning Show that the scientists are challenged to ascertain the lifespan and the behaviour of the virus on the surface of the earth, making it difficult for the medical team and researchers find vaccine for the virus.
He revealed that scientists are still engaging in several trials, trying hard to establish if the HIV vaccine can be an alternative for the treatment of COVID-19 as several vaccines have failed to work. Scientists have professed that SARS 2 Virus behaves differently in different countries and continents in terms of symptoms. This makes the virus the most complex of all viruses. It also makes it difficult to find one-fit-all vaccine to deal with the new coronavirus and to the scientists it may take a long while to win the fight against the virus.
Having shared this information about COVID-19, it is prudent for me to add to the precautionary protocols expertly outlined by the WHO linking it to the myth surrounding the virus in the public space.
Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus
We need to be aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through the national and local public health authority. COVID-19 is still ravaging through countries worldwide. Most people who became infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others depending on their immune system architecture. Take care of your health and protect others by doing the following:
Wash your hands frequently
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap under running water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap under running water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Maintain social distancing
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain viruses. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has it.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body through your respiratory system and can make you sick.
Practice respiratory hygiene
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
We have been advised by the health experts to use nose or face masks in public places and In fact, it has become mandatory for everyone to use the nose or face masks before engaging in any transaction.
In all of these preventive measures, taking a hot bath does not prevent the new coronavirus. Again, the new coronavirus cannot be transmitted through goods manufactured in China or any other country reporting COVID-19 cases.
We should note that hand dryers are not effective in killing the new coronavirus and also UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or any other other part of the skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.
We have to note that spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Again, there is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected anybody from the infection of the virus.
In all of these challenges which we are confronted with as a country as a result of COVID-19, we can begin to count our blessings and name them one by one. We will appreciate the fact that, since the confirmation of COVID-19, the usual lifestyle of Ghanaians has not been the same. When was the first time you heard that there has been mass disinfection in the entire country, especially at our market places? Ghanaians have seen the need to keep our environment very clean since the outbreak of the COVID-19 without any enforcement from any authority. I am certain that after the COVID-19, Ghanaians will continue to adhere to the personal hygiene protocols and we will be able to achieve the dream of making Ghana, one of the cleanest countries is Africa.
At this point, Hon. Inusah Fuseini, Member of Parliament for Tamale Central is right to say that at the end of the COVID-19, Ghana and the rest of the world will not be the same again because it has exposed humanity in diverse ways.
The COVID-19 has given birth to a behavioural change in the country where personal hygiene has become topmost priority of every Ghanaian. They go about their work ovserving the precautionary measures wherever they find themselves.
If for nothing at all, the outbreak of COVID-19 has made us realised that some Ghanaian institutions are very innovative. We have been forced to think outside the box as we are seeing the relevance and the mandate of some institutions in the country as scientists at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and Incas Diagnostics, both based in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi, are currently optimising the kit for Covid-19 testing.
Scientists from the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR), one of the major testing centres for Covid-19 in Ghana, made significant inputs into the development. Some extensive research was also done by some medical folks at the University of Ghana in the area of sampling.
The new RDT kit for Covid-19 is a boost for Ghana’s efforts at curbing the virus that at its last count – claimed 11 lives and puts the life of some 1,550 at risk because it is consistent with the government’s strategy in dealing with the pandemic: containing spread, inspire the expansion of domestic capability and deepen self-reliance.
The KNUST-Incas Diagnostic technology uses a finger-prick blood – just like blood glucose test or home pregnancy test – to detect two different types of antibodies produced by the body when it is fighting off Covid-19 infection at least seven days after infection – whether the person is showing symptoms or not.
The Ghana Institution of Surveyors has developed an app that will help trace suspected COVID-19 affected persons in real time. The President of the Ghana Institute of Surveyors, Dr John Amaglo, said the application is also able to help with the monitoring and evaluation of the disease situation in the country.
He added that the Institute together with environmental protection professionals have developed a system that will allow health authorities to easily find densely populated areas where the disease is spreading horizontally.
This will help health officials to restrict entry and exit points and also create makeshift medical facilities to treat the affected people in the community; awesome innovation coming out as a result of the COVID-19. So, our experts could be that innovative here on Ghana?
Every government’s desire is to see the growth of the economy and this can be achieved through the human resource in the country and so it means that the health of Ghanaians is significant but yet, little attention has been given to the health sector until the outbreak of COVID-19. We are now realising the loopholes in the health sector to the extent that the Vice President Dr. Alhaji Bawumia at the launch of the COVID-19 Tracker said that, we need to invest heavily in the health sector in order not to be taken by surprise in the future.
In view of the COVID-19, President Akufo-Addo has announced that 88 district hospitals will be built across the country within the next one year and again the six new regions will have regional hospitals as part of the country’s preparedness for future occurrence of a virus in this nature. I really don’t know if I am safe to say ‘Thank You’ to the COVID-19.
We witnessed how some Ghanaians had a bite of our national cake as the government gave freebies to the vulnerable and needy in the lockdown areas during the partial lockdown to stop the rapid rate at which the virus was spreading. We are currently enjoying three months ex-gratia in terms of free water supply and 50 percent cut of our electricity bill.
Aside from the fact that the COVID-19 is claiming lives and our scientists are trying to find antidote for the virus, we have realised how vulnerable we all are. It has exposed our limitations (weakness), strength and the opportunities to us as a country.
The opportunities are that, we can now boost of our local textile industry producing more PPEs for the whole country and even export some as I hear it is on going .It is a wakeup call for the country to promote our local industries. We need to now think of depending on our locally produced foods, goods and other things that make life easy and comfortable. China is what it is today because of a deliberate decision by authority to empower their local industries and it is time we do same.
Without mincing words, I will say that the arrival of COVID-19 has shaped our way of life and going forward, we will not remain the same as a country. Will you share the same thought with me that the COVID-19 is a blessing in disguise for Ghana and by extension the rest of the world?