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Opinions of Monday, 29 June 2020

Columnist: Dr. Thomas Winsum Anabah

Dr. Anabah writes: A wild goose chase of Coronavirus at our border towns

Military  at display Military at display

Is it true the interior minister has said the motive behind the deployment of national security officials in the border towns of our dear country Ghana is to stop the importation of COVID 19? What are pearls to swine? Waooo, wonders they say shall never end.

Where was the minister of interior in march when we were calling for the closure of our borders? Now that we have a community spread more than our neighbours, does he believe this will make an impact in any form other than wasting of scarce resources?

Which health experts advised the interior minister to invade our border towns especially those in the Volta, Oti, Upper East and West regions to stop the influx of COVID 19 into Ghana from Togo and Burkina Faso?

Since when did the aforementioned regions become the epicenter of COVID 19 in Ghana?

Since when did movement of family members and petty traders between Ghana and Togo cause the surge in numbers of COVID 19 in those regions and to a large extent Ghana?

The data on COVID 19 in west Africa indicate Ghana and Nigeria are the worst-performing countries in the region, hence enforcement of border closure should rather come from the best performing countries to halt a spillover of COVID into their countries.

As we speak, our closest neighbours have to follow accumulated COVID 19 figures, 1. Burkina Faso: 941 cases, 826 recoveries, 53 dead and 35 active cases. 2. Ivory Coast: 8,944 cases, 3,587 recoveries, 64 dead and 5,293 active cases. 3. Togo: 615 cases, 395 recoveries, dead 66 and 154 active cases. Ghana, our beloved country, has over 16000 cases with 12,720 recoveries, 112 dead and 3, 910 active cases.

Ghana’s current active cases is more than the accumulated active cases of Togo and Burkina Faso put together. If there is any country amongst these four that should be worried about a spillover of COVID 19 from his neighbour, it would be Togo and Burkina Faso. But to our surprise it is rather Ghana that is crying foul by deploring wrong and wasteful strategy to manage COVID 19. Isn’t it obvious there is an ulterior motive to this rather than fighting covid19? Anyone in good health can smell the stink of a rotten fish from this brouhaha!

Today, what Ghana needs to manage the COVID 19 pandemic are:

1. Reagents for laboratory and expansion of testing centres: this will improve the turnaround time for laboratory testing, so that positive cases can quickly be isolated while those with negative results can take a sigh of relief from the anxious state.

2. PPEs for health facilities and IPC training of our health professionals: we have had reports of health professionals procuring their own PPEs to service patients and we have reports of health professionals contracting the disease. Training in IPC and availability of PPEs will go a long way to reduce the number of health professionals contracting the disease and also spare the pockets of the little they have.

3. More Contact tracers: the success in a fight of any pandemic depends on how good your contact tracing strategy is rolled out. It is therefore imperative for the government to up his game in the area of contact tracing so that no infected person would be left out of the hook.

4. Assisted Isolation for the less endowed: the inability for some victims to self-isolate is one of the factors that keep the virus spreading thus the government needs to pay attention in that regard.

When we have all these challenges facing us as a country, I wonder why the government has decided to spend our resources in deploring security officials to do a job that would not help in any way to improve in the management of the current pandemic.

Which of these countries borders Kumasi and Accra and why are numbers of positive COVID 19 low in our border towns? This clearly shows poor research into the distribution pattern and source of current COVID 19 cases in the country by the national security.

I will urge the government to concentrate its efforts and direct resources in the fight against coronavirus to Ghana’s epicenters (Accra and Kumasi) by: 1. spending those resources used to deploy the security at our border towns to educate people in these cities so that they can conduct themselves well during the compilation of the new voters register.

2. sending security officers to highly infectious cities so that they can enforce COVID 19 guidelines to minimize the spread.

3. procuring regents for tests and expanding testing centres.

4. intensifying contact tracing

5. procuring more PPEs for health facilities.

As for the deployment of the security officers in our border towns, Mr Minister, your reasons lack substance. I will rather agree to those given by Hon. K. T. Hammond and Gabby O. Darko. These two are the real security strategists. But how can they know who in Togo or Burkina is a Ghanaian better than those living in the border towns?

Let’s be careful. There is no foreign country in this world that makes some Ghanaians more Ghanaian than others. We are aware of a number of chartered flights that would be arriving soon with Ghanaians from Europe and America, so why close the borders to our countrymen living in our neighbouring countries who want to return by land? Is it an issue of elitism?

Ghanaians living in our neighbouring countries want to return and exercise their constitutional rights by registering and voting in December but the government is using COVID 19 as an excuse to disenfranchise them. If the government believes the movement of people can spread the virus why did it not lock the country early to disallow the virus from entering? And on top of it, all implement a poor lockdown and hurriedly lifted restrictions to allow people to go about doing their business.

What is wrong with the application of science our government very much cherishes?

Though some countries in Europe are implementing target lockdown, entire Europe is relaxing their borders. I thought our plagiarism government would have used this as a justification to open our borders for our brothers and sisters living within West Africa to come home and get registered, but the contrary is what we see in our border towns.

It is a shame Ghana’s resources are only deployed to secure a government a chance to continue at post at the expense of our collective good.