Everybody is at risk, but everyone is also safe from the illness that is fast spreading and killing thousands since its outbreak in China’s Wuhan Province.
Now in over 50 countries, the virus has officially recorded 83, 726 cases, with 2, 859 deaths while 36,723 out of the recorded cases are said to have recovered.
The most recent updates indicate that Nigeria in West Africa has recorded its very first case as of Friday, February 27, 2020, as confirmed by the country’s Federal Ministry of Health.
With Ghana close to Nigeria; approximately 668 miles by air and 1,075 kilometres, questions have begun emerging about the preparedness of the country in the face of the global pandemic.
While everyone is at risk, there are very practical steps any and every Ghanaian should take to ensure the virus stays away from them and their loved ones.
The World Health Organisation has so far shared tips on preventing the virus and keeping safe, but here is how Ghanaians should look out for themselves to remain coronavirus-free.
1. Trotro, public transport protection
Ideally, per the WHO standards, one must maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between him/herself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing but in reality, unless your movements are restricted, it is more likely for 1 out of every 10 Ghanaian to patronise public transportation for movement.
Being the most common transport system in Ghana, especially for the ordinary citizen who doesn’t own a car, it is very prudent that you look out for yourself in these ways during, or after boarding a commercial vehicle what is called in the local parlance; ‘trotro’.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Coronavirus; COVID-19 is spread from person to person, ie. Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
It is also spread via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes (these droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs).
Knowing this, coupled with knowledge about the way movement in trotro’s work, one must be sure to keep his or her unwashed hands away from any part of the face after touching the seats (which may have droplets).
Like many viruses, there is a very low possibility that the virus will stay on surfaces for long, but immediate contact after the droplets land may be risky.
2. Avoid shaking hands, fist bumps
It is a major component of the Ghanaian culture; shaking hands. But in the face of coronavirus, it is advisable to wave rather than shake hands.
This is because one may not know when an infected person may have respiratory droplets that may be transferred through handshakes.
Handshakes have, as a matter of fact, been identified as one of the major way the virus is spread. To be safe, you can just politely wave as a greeting gesture.
3. Protect yourself, others when sneezing, coughing
Don’t be inconsiderate, get a covering for yourself and make use of it whenever you sneeze or cough. This is a general courtesy but it is more needed now, not just to protect yourself but others around you.
On the other hand, cover your nose, or mouth when you find yourself around someone sneezing or coughing, it saves you from having any infected droplets in your system. You can also use a bent elbow.
In such cases also, make sure to use a hand sanitiser and or wash your hands thoroughly after leaving that environment to ensure any remnants of droplets that may have strayed do not get close to your face.
Also, dispose of the used tissue and cover cloth used for the activity.
4. Carry Sanitisers along. Frequently wash hands with soap
The most important step to saving yourself from Coronavirus is to frequently wash your hands with soap under running water or rub with alcohol-based hand rub.
Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Ghana is still free from the virus as it stands and measures are in place to ensure it remains so.
Meanwhile, on the country’s preparedness to combat the disease, educational messages have been prepared and are yet to start being circulated.
Alerts have been sent to all regions to update their respective preparedness plans and activate their respective public health management committees.
The Port Health Authority at the Kotoka International Airport, under the Ministry of Health has also indicated ongoing measures to ensure citizens are safe and travellers are screened before they are allowed into the country.
The Ridge Hospital and the Tema General Hospital have been earmarked as case management centres, with four other facilities; the Ga East Hospital, the Police Hospital, the LEKMA Hospital and the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital identified as additional facilities to support case management.
Staff at the two identified treatment centres have also been given preliminary training in case management. Government has also prepared a total budget of about GHC35 million to tackle the disease in the face of any eventualities.