Much has been written and spoken about the COVID-19 pandemic since its outbreak in December 2019.
As of the time of going to press, over 2.1 million people had died since the onset.
The disease has popularised many catchphrases, such as ‘new normal’ and ‘flatten the curve’ as we embrace ‘new ways of working’ and living.
Virtual meetings have taken the place of physical sessions, while friends and families have been forced to find new ways to connect, as the world struggles to regain control and bring back a sense of normalcy.
Although some may say the impact on lives lost has not been as lethal as some other pandemics before it (the 1918 flu claimed an estimated 50 to 100 million lives, while the Bubonic plague claimed an estimated 25 million lives in Europe between 1347 and 1351), the socioeconomic consequences of this disease cannot be understated.
Businesses that have sustained livelihoods for years have been forced to downsize or even fold up completely.
We live in a time when people are more easily connected than ever through technology. Travel and communication are vastly advanced, compared to the 14th century, making the potential for spread even more alarming.
A silver lining in all this chaos is the fact we have taken the opportunity to become the most innovative as we have ever been in order to survive.
Companies have been compelled to advance their digital strategies and implement remote working protocols far ahead of schedule.
Increased risk of unemployment has spawned unprecedented levels of entrepreneurship. The adoption of cashless transactions and automated delivery options continue to grow as we find alternate ways to reduce physical contact. This momentum does not appear to be slowing down any time soon.
Governments all over the world have also taken steps to stem the tide, reduce the rate of infection and, most importantly, minimise the death rate. Interventions such as curfews, the enforcement of preventive protocols and, in the most drastic of cases, instituting regional lockdowns, have all worked to varying degrees of success.
Most recently, with the development of vaccines, the world is bracing up once more for another assault on this global menace.
What about Ghana?
Many interventions by the state and the private sector have gone a long way to improve our health outcomes, compared to many countries.
However, we now face the most trying time in the face of this pandemic. Our ability to manage the so-called “first wave” gave us the chance to dare to be complacent.
The numbers are rising again, a new variant has been identified and the intensive care units at the various hospitals are beginning to fill up once more.
The impact of this on the quality of health care is frightening.
As has been said, the numbers are becoming names and the names becoming people we all know. We must revert to being vigilant once more and take the precautions to heart.
We can only survive this phase if we protect ourselves to protect one another. It is not for nothing that the Bible implies that the lack of knowledge leads to death. We must continue to equip ourselves with information about the development of the disease only through authorised channels.
Lastly, this is not the time for stigmatisation and discrimination against people with COVID-19. The psychological effects of potentially contracting the disease can be overwhelming, let alone actually suffering from it.
Survivors must be encouraged to speak out about the disease and the health facilities must not treat suspected patients with disdain, relegating them to the deepest and darkest recesses of their buildings.
For some, this uncomfortable experience becomes a deterrent, forcing positive cases to revert to self-medication and non-isolation, both possible ways of spreading the virus.