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Opinions of Thursday, 21 May 2020

Columnist: Anass Zakaria

Who is a frontliner?


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The world as we know today has changed, and it will continue to remain the same if remedies for the treatment of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic is not found early.

From all spheres of the world and life; governments, scientists, herbal medicine practitioners, opinion leaders, the media, and health workers have been on their toes doing what it takes to preserve the human lives.

About four million, nine hundred and seventeen thousand, eight hundred and seventy-four (4,917,874) persons have been infected with the COVID-19, and it has claimed the lives of three hundred and twenty-three thousand, seven hundred and one (323,701) people as of today and still counting, per the World Health Organization database, with Ghana’s infections and deaths reaching six thousand and ninety-six (6096) and thirty-one (31) respectively.

This drastic and rapid growth in the infections and deaths toll have made governments to come out with ways by which they can reduce and slow the two (infections and deaths) down.

These have brought terminologies like contact tracers, front liners, quarantine, self-isolation, isolation centres, lockdown, community spread, containment, positive, negative, nose masks, social distancing, sanitizers etc., which have become part of our everyday life.

Today, I am going to talk about whom a front liner is. The government of Ghana per the advice given by his cabinet has associated the words, FRONT LINER, to only health workers. This is because, to them, they take care of the infected, contact trace perceive places or persons thought to be infected, and go through the risk of being infected each day.

This as a result has made the government put in place measures to make their work a little bit easy and worth doing. The government, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, has taken off the tax on their salaries, added fifty percent of their basic salaries to their monthly salaries, and has provided PPEs and other things that can make the work easy. He has also apportioned Ghc 150 daily for contact tracers. The government has done this good thing, and I praise him for that.

Nevertheless, my question is; what of the community assembly member who is not paid a penny, receives no salary at the end of the month, uses his/her own pocket money to buy streetlights and other things that his/her community need and has no protection against this Coronavirus?

He/she goes about his/her duties of going through the community each day and reporting to and leading the ‘’front liners’’ on what he or she has observed about the person who sneaked through the borders of the country into the community, someone who may have brought the infection into the community, even though the borders have been closed, people who have escaped from isolation centres and lodging in his/her community with their family knowing or not, and spreading the virus?

Does the country factor such assembly members too when it comes to sharing the national cake? Is it not sad and pathetic? Are their work not as dangerous as the others are? They also contact trace even before the so-called frontliners come.

At times, they go to the house of the suspected person to make sure that they adhere to the protocols to stay home until their test results come. In doing all these, he/she is not given any motivation. Have we forgotten that he/she too can be infected, so needs to be given some form motivation and protection? Some common things like nose masks, hand sanitizers, gloves and protective goggles have not been given the assembly members.

The government is doing a lot to motivate people to help in stopping the spread of the COVID-19 but he must not focus only on some group of people and leave the assembly members who are not even paid an allowance for their enormous duties, who are also playing some vital roles in the community before the so called front liners arrive to continue the work.

Anass Zakaria

Assembly Member

Ashanti Region

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