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Opinions of Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Columnist: Mathias Mawuli Ametefe

COVID-19: Relapse and resurgence; who is to blame?

Some parts of the globe has seen a sharp resurgence in the infection rate of the Coronavirus Some parts of the globe has seen a sharp resurgence in the infection rate of the Coronavirus

But for the political season and the preference of political power over human lives, one could say with all certainty that Ghanaians were doing so well in observing the covid-19 protocols which accounted for the disease being brought under control.

With the resurgence of the daily infection rate due to blatant disregard of the preventive measures, who is to blame? The Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Politician, the Media or the Ordinary Ghanaian Citizen?

As at August 28, 2020, according to the President of the Republic’s address to the nation on Covid-19, active cases in the country had in a matter of two weeks, declined from 1,847 to 1,059. It was refreshing to note that, the number of active cases subsequently halved to 507 by September and 398 in October 2020.

Fast forward, after a series of political rallies which saw mammoth crowds of political activists led by top government officials who erstwhile advocated for all citizens to adhere to covid-19 protocols and called for sanctions for those who flouted such protocols, but for the love of political power, blatantly disregarded the most preached social distancing and wearing of nose masks, there was no doubt there was going to be a surge of active cases before and after the elections.

In fact, on the 8th day of November, barely a month into the general elections, the President in his address to the nation on covid-19, indicated that “we have observed a gradual change in the trajectory of the virus, with an increase in active cases from 398 cases recorded three weeks ago to 1,139 active cases as at 6th November 2020 with daily infection rate rising from an average of 25 to 130”.
The case has not been any better after the general elections as government has indicated its intension to renew the imposition of restrictions and other regulations for enforcement of the protocols.

From all indications, Ghanaians, until bad precedents set by leaders of the political divide during their primaries and campaign, were doing well in complying with the covid-19 protocols, a situation which accounted for the decline in active cases and daily infections.

Sadly, almost all shopping malls, supermarkets, drinking bars, restaurants, pharmacies among others barely comply with the covid-19 protocols with majority of them replacing handwashing facilities with hand sanitisers. As for the checking of temperatures and the popular “no mask no entry”, it has almost become history. Churches are not left out of those who have relaxed compliance with the protocols.

The fact that we, as a nation have relapsed from complying with the protocols is there for all to see. Now, if the second wave of the virus in some countries which is more severe and has resulted in stricter measures including total lockdowns is anything to go by as we await a vaccine, who has to be blamed for our situation?

Surprisingly, the Director-General of the GHS, the Director of Health Promotion in Charge of Covid-19 risk communication, the Presidential Advisor on health, the Health Minister, the NDC’s Covid-19 team and other health experts lost their voices during the electioneering season but have quickly found their voices after the elections, calling for people to comply with covid-19 protocols. Such hypocrisy, sycophancy and prioritization of political power over human lives is worthy of condemnation in no certain terms. This will not only demotivate the citizenry from adhering with the safety protocols due to the lack of perception of risk but also negatively affect uptake of the covid-19 vaccine should it be available due to the low perception of benefits in taking the vaccine.

The media, in particular, being the fourth arm of government and the most powerful tool for our development as a nation, unfortunately, failed to hold our leaders accountable for compliance with the protocols during the campaign season.

Being the gatekeepers, the media should not be seen to be kowtowing to the interest of political power but to discharge their duties in the interest of the citizenry, calling out the people with power who do the wrong thing until they right their wrongs.

On this note, I call on all Ghanaians not to give up on adhering to the covid-19 protocols including regular hand washing, wearing of face masks, avoiding crowded areas and practising social distancing as much as practicable since we are not off the woods.

May God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong.