In the wake of announcing the detection of the Neo Corona Virus in Ghana by the President His Excellency Nana Akufo Addo in the evening of Thursday, 5 March, 2020, my intention was to keep my readers up to date with all the verified information I could lay my hands on. However, for some reason of great challenge; psychological, emotional and mental, this desire and plan seem to evaporate rapidly.
Stories of worldwide human annihilation being caused by the deadly virus is just overwhelming, to put it mildly. The cause of the seeming loss of fight to rein in speedy success being attributable to late responses from governments and people’s lack of change in social conventions makes human efforts look fragile in the face of natural calamities.
At home in Ghana, the announcement to keep and maintain social distance has received varied interpretations. Whilst others understand the call to mean a total ban on all social activities, others say it is to mean just a reduction in numbers at such functions. Both the enlightened and simple in our society do not seem to understand the import of the directive and continue to gather around and interact albeit in smaller numbers than previously. People must live, come rain or shine and would wish to live in the greatest comfort and convenience that they can couch out for themselves at all times.
Observing the conduct of church services on the first Sunday after the imposition of the suspension of religious activities in the face of COVID-19 in the country, one could not help noticing the flaws in the arrangements of the events and grave misunderstanding of what the social distancing is meant to achieve. For example the leader of the service and all others using the same pulpit was a total deviation for the purpose of avoiding contact with the virus and possible contamination, if any of the participants were already infected.
Again long liturgies, singing and sermons are sure ways of increasing virus presence as the virus is now known to have aerosol abilities and survive for over six hours airborne. Too much talking in the service and too much live singing will likely widen the contamination area in a particular vicinity and expose more in the area to the infection.
The understanding of commercial transport operators in Ghana, per their demonstrations, demeanours and actions also do not seem to match proportionately the level of urgency needed to arrest any possible spread of the virus in Ghana.
Some commercial drivers and their assistants still ply their trade with less protection to ensure their safety and that of their clients. The basic use of hand sanitizers and wearing of nose masks and gloves are missing in their trade apparel.
Drivers assistants still handle money with bare hands and speak with uncovered mouth and nose thereby exposing their passengers in fully loaded vehicles to virus infections. With social distancing still absent on their vehicles, drivers assistants still chase after passengers and drag them by their hands to board their vehicles.
Another flaw that seem to undermine the intended gains of the social distancing protocol is the low level living standards of the middle income to lower income earners in our society. How can society ensure a low transmission rate in the case of an outbreak in a compound house? In a community where toilet facilities are shared in common and pumps are operated in turns to fetch water, how can the spread be checked.
The major underpin to winning this war against the spread of the COVID-19 in Ghana being the availability and fair distribution of essential items such as drugs, chemicals and protective gears to citizens and front line health workers, seem to have been undermined by shortages, neglect, greed and the associating evil desire to amass wanton wealth in a fledgling free market society. The least remembered and commented on, concerning the level of greed demonstrated in our society in the face of this human calamity the better.
Everywhere in the world people are either rushing for essential needs and hoarding such, thereby creating artificial shortages and despondency or selling at cut-throat price the very basic needs that would protect the society both the buyer and seller lives in. Sometimes we forget that when society thrive, we all benefit and when society fail or suffer we bear the brunt collectively.
Suddenly in Ghana, alcohol based hand sanitizers have become an object of social status that must be bought like paying an expensive bride price.
As if not satisfied with their acts of greed and evil profiteering, the same greed driven elements attempt to exploit the situation further by creating a system of panic buying through putting out on social media a purported potential announcement of a total national lockdown. This they know to be false but who cares the bauble if it is going to drive their wicked scheme.
Checking and fighting false news in these times should be the daunting task of all saintly minded media practitioners. When the lot that must feed the hungry deliberately begin to feed the hungry with poison, the aim no longer become feeding to keep alive but to kill. For instance, what would be the motivation of a respectable press house to publish a story of a head of state in a modern society using lions on the streets in a city to keep residents indoors during a national lockdown? Such stories as illogical as they are, despise reasoning and smack of mischief.
Again what is the import in reporting numbers of infections that have not been announced and reporting a theory of conspiracy by government to cover up or hide actual numbers?
Let us all bear in mind that COVID-19 is a global catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude and managing the effects to keep the vast majority of humanity alive is the responsibility of all humans irrespective of nationality, profession, race, faith, colour, creed or social status.
For us in the inky fraternity we must embrace responsible journalism as a way of life and work to safe guard the good tenets of our noble profession in all trying situations.
At this point in time and with all that is happening around, my mind is still not made whether to write or not to write on the global COVID-19 situation and to say how it might all end one day.