Another spell of Covid chaos?

While we have had a lot on our plate as a country since the beginning of the 2021 year, the COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly the most delicate state of affairs. However, between periods of momentary respite in the decrease in the number of cases and deaths, the country has gone into hiatus in vigilance and in the seriousness attached to the deadly virus. Could it have been the arrival of the vaccine? I think the “enemy” had already shown us what it is capable of doing, hence, a little encouragement in statistics and one dose of a vaccine could not have been enough for such complacency.

Since its inception at the end of the year 2019, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had ravaging effects on nations and brought most global activities to a near standstill. Schools have been shut down, supermarkets cannot accommodate the usual intake of shoppers, and restaurants are doing more takeaways and home deliveries to avoid physical contact which is the one of the major means through which the virus spreads.

As of April 2021, over 134 million confirmed cases and over 2.9 million deaths had been reported. (Republic of China, Centre for Disease Control 2019). In the UNICEF’s West and Central Africa coronavirus situation report 2021, as of 29 March 2021, 569,646 confirmed cases and 8,126 deaths (CFR: 1.43 per cent) have been reported in the 24 countries of WCAR.

Despite the efforts made by governments, testing capacities are still limited at the national level with testing strategies oriented towards travellers.. To date, The SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern identified in South Africa has been detected in DRC, Gambia and Ghana and the one identified in the UK has been isolated in DRC, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.

According to UNICEF Ghana Situational Report between 1st February to 28th February 2021, the number of people who contracted Coronavirus kept rising and the restrictive measures continued to be imposed. As of 28th of February, the number of cases stood at 83,212, with 5,444 active cases and 607 reported deaths. In West and Central Africa, Ghana saw the second highest number of Coronavirus cases (UNICEF Ghana Situational Report  February 2021).

On the 24th of February 2021, Ghana became the first country in the world to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX Facility, with support from World Health Organization, Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and partners. The Emirates flight EK0787 landed at Kotoka International Airport at 7:30am, bringing a cargo of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca a vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) and 600,000 syringes. (UNICEF Ghana COVID 19 situation report February 2021).

 It has been a year since the country went on a lockdown due to the overwhelming nature of the pandemic. Evidently, there has been a significant drop in the urgency that was previously attached to the virus. It is common to see the utter display of deviance towards the wearing of nose masks and the observation of social distancing in the market and in commercial vehicles. Even prices of nose masks have taken a nose dive and it always feel like a gift when you buy one, three for 1Ghc. Perhaps, there have even been moments when those who had the belief that there was no such virus confidently felt their assumptions were right. Covid was almost as gone as any other virus that has attacked humanity in the past.

Yet the discourse is back around the corner. Word on the street seems to resonate the fear we had several months ago and it looking like we are going to have another spell of Covid chaos. Reports suggest a resurgence in the increase number of cases and deaths. As of June 30, 2021, 272 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were registered in Ghana. As of the same date, there was a total of 796 casualties and 95,118 recoveries in the country. Overall cases reached its highest at 95,9114, and Greater Accra was the most affected region. On January 31, 2021, the highest daily increase in cases was recorded in Ghana, at 1,583. The numbers shows the rapid rate at which the virus is infecting people and this begs the question of whether or not we have rested on our oars as a country.

Earlier, this July, it was confirmed by the Ghana Health Service that 136 students in a high school were infected with the COVID-19    Delta variant. Similarly, as of July 8 2021, 08:59 GMT , Ghana’s cases stands at 96,708 with 797 deaths and 94,153 recoveries. (Worldometer).

Things are not looking good and with the recent change in attitudes towards the virus, there is a high likelihood of the country thrown into another chaos of a lockdown and stringent measures against physical contacts.  I may not be a prophet of doom but there is a premonition in the alarming rate of the spread of the virus and with the current rate in casualties, it would not be a surprise to see our borders closed and movements limited in the country, especially the capital.

This might be a subtle wake up call, maybe a flash in the pan regarding the cases and number of deaths but our attitude and disposition towards the virus is a sobering thought that writes fear about what will unfold in the weeks ahead of us.

By Recheal Naa Amerley Owusu

The writer is a Level 300 student at Ghana Institute of Journalism