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Opinions of Saturday, 27 June 2020

Columnist: Samuel Alesu-Dordzi, Contributor

Mr President, please reconsider school re-opening


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Dear Mr President, I hope you are well and keeping safe during this COVID-19 period. As citizens, we have to support you every step along the way – especially in these distressing times. And this support includes reaching out to you directly (regardless of the medium).

Governance is about giving and taking opinions and ideas. And by this write-up, I hope I can convince you about the need to reverse your policy regarding the re-opening of school.

You have the numbers. You have the statistics and all the other relevant data. So I won’t bore you with all of these details. My main concern with the re-opening of the schools is tied to the rising number of cases and the early signs of our health system being overwhelmed.

I understand your men have things planned and well-laid out. In your address to the nation, you informed us that you were supplying PPEs to the various schools. Students are to expect to receive facemasks as well. This is all good.

And we must be grateful. But the big question on my mind is: are we not taking too much of a risk?

I sincerely think that we are. As I write, the number of active cases is around 8,000. There are reports that some health and treatment centres are full. Some are having to send patients away. Some doctors and nurses have contracted the virus.

I understand that close to 300 health workers have been infected and as a result, are unavailable to assist in the fight against the pandemic. A doctor is said to have died as a result of contracting the virus.

Even in the best of times, our doctor to patient ratio has not been the best. Some health workers have had to be re-deployed from other facilities to other facilities.

The hospitals and their workers are showing signs of exhaustion. In summary, things are not looking good. And the last thing we need to do is to stretch ourselves thin.

We understand this is an election year. But we just have one objective. To survive. And a good way out of this is to ensure that the hotspots for infections are minimised as possible.

And that is why summoning students to school is not a great idea. There is no guarantee that these students will not succumb to an infection.

I listened to your update number 11. And I have two points to make regarding them. The first is that we should not discount the experiences of other countries.

It is nice to hear you say that we are figuring things out for ourselves and not relying on the experiences of other nations. But if this virus was imported into this country, then we need to pay attention to the impact it is having on other countries.

We are not unique. Some have reopened their schools. And gone back to shut them down due to spikes in cases. We don’t need to go through that phase.

The second point is about the number of reported deaths. The number seems to be a key decider for you. I think it should not be. I think it is enough to consider the number of infections and end it there.

The more the spikes, the more likely it is that the quality of health care will also decline. And once quality is compromised, more deaths will follow.

I believe there are ways to help students make up for the lost time. Listen to the plea of many. And please reconsider your position.

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