Public now calls Covid-19 “Government Disease”?

…As they Redirect Anger of Abysmal Government Performance

Speaking on Joy FM’s political talk show – Newsfile this Saturday, August 1, 2020, Prof Ransford Gyampo, of the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, said among other things, that residents of his native town in the Central Region are sceptical of COVID-19 protocols, especially wearing of facemasks, because they believe it’s infections are limited to government functionaries and within its circles.

He made the statement, when the host of the programme, Samson Lardi Ayeneni asked for his comments on the unfortunate incidence at Kafaba, near Salaga in the East Gonja District Assembly, Savannah Region, where a 90-year-old woman was lynched through a ritual, accused of being a witch.

Public now calls Covid-19 "Government Disease"?
Public now calls Covid-19 “Government Disease”?

He listed persisting widespread superstitions among Ghanaians, including beliefs in witchcraft. He added, that some Ghanaians hold a superstition that COVID-19 was a disease circulating exclusively within government functionaries, and he used the opportunity to dispel this notion and educate Ghanaians on COVID-19, calling it a real disease not limited to only government circles.

The spread of COVID-19 pandemic reached Ghana when President Akufo-Addo and his entourage returned from a five-nation European tour – Norway, Switzerland, England, Scotland and Belgium. NDC MP, Kumbungu Constituency. Ras Mubarak, at the time, made a public statement in request calling Akufo-Addo and his entourage to avail themselves to WHO protocol of a mandatory self-quarantine for 14 days soon on arrival to Ghana.

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But the call was ignored. Later, it became public that the Norwegian ambassador to Ghana who led the presidential entourage to meet their Norwegian counterparts had tested positive to COVID-19 infection, after he was seen in the company of the first lady and other dignitaries at a birthday bash at Peduase Lodge, just within the time.

He was also a guest speaker at Kumasi on the occasion of Ghana’s 63rd Independence anniversary, too. Images of them seated and interacting in close proximity without observing WHO COVID-19 protocols such as physical distancing and wearing facemasks, were widely circulated.

The government of Akufo-Addo has recently come under heavy attack by epidemiologists and medical professionals, who accuse the government of being complicit in the vertical spread of COVID-19, which intense horizontal spread has taken unanticipated dimensions across the country. In their summarised view, if the government had taken the report of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in the early stages serious, it is highly possible the vertical spread could have been brought under control and subsequently lowered horizontal spread.

According to early reports carried and aired by Multimedia Group at the time, travellers from China to Ghana were barely examined or made to undergo checks and their contacts traceable. Better still, the government should have made it strictly compliant for every inbound passenger to Ghana to undergo a mandatory quarantine regime before being released into society after retesting.

At a point, Multimedia Group reporters got a Ghanaian student leader in a Chinese university on a visit to Ghana to share his experience. This got the Director of Health, Dr Asare Nsiah to sit up and started addressing the emerging spread with a semblance of seriousness, by which time, things had gone out of hand.

Also, the timing of government to embark on a working visit to Norway and the rest of the five-nation European countries was bad; when Norway was reported to have tested positive for COVID-19. In their opinion, the government could have avoided this embarrassment of scandal proportion, if it had heeded to good counsel.

However, the government labelled all such critics as members of the opposition NDC, and with intent to cause disaffection. Ghana lost precious lives to COVID-19, especially front line workers, who were barely equipped with the right gears such as PPEs. The Rector of Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Council, Prof Plange-Rhule was one such victim.

Unfortunately, this is the only example where superstition meets data and science.

By Comrade Shmuel Ja’Mba Abm

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