Locked down: Time to stay safe and clean?

BY: Kobby Asmah
The Writer
The Writer

Accra and Kumasi are quiet and calm. The atmosphere is peaceful in the two biggest cities of the country.

Driving through the city of Accra yesterday morning, I saw the streets deserted, with pockets of police presence maintaining law and order.

Similar scenes were reported in Kumasi.

On the whole, it appears the first day of the 14-day stay-at-home measure meant to help check the rising spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is working beautifully.

No ordinary times

But these are not ordinary times. Just last week, there was a discussion on whether to lock down Ghana or not. That had become necessary in view of the COVID-19 cases soaring in the country.

Today, we are faced with 152 cases, five deaths and two recoveries.

But, in response to whether the country should go the lockdown route or not, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last Friday declared that, effective 1 a.m. yesterday, the stay-at-home measure to help curtail the spread of the deadly global pandemic in the country would begin.

Global pandemic

I believe when we entered January 2020 with new resolutions, high hopes and big expectations, little did we envisage such an outcome.

Since the outbreak of the public health crisis in the country some time in March this year, many people, knowingly or unknowingly, do not believe we are in an emergency situation. It was baffling to see some people simply failing to adhere to basic instructions as given by the government or health workers to avoid the spread of the COVID-19.

The reasons for this state of affairs may vary from person to person and place to place. For instance, our social setting alone makes it difficult for many people to keep to the social (physical) distancing rule.

Turning around the scare

Nonetheless, everything happens for a good reason, and while we are in a lockdown, what can we do to turn around the scare of the raging pandemic?

Driving through Accra’s central business district (CBD), one striking feature was the unsightly rubbish and filth dotted along the streets.

With the rains approaching, our communities will so soon be exposed, as they are always unprepared to receive the rains. With the choked gutters and poor drainage networks all over, what can we do personally and individually to keep the city clean from filth?

Will it be asking too much, while staying at home, to do some tidying in and around our homes? Will it be asking too much for the government machinery to mobilise the managers of sanitation and waste, including Zoomlion, to clean up the CBD?

While our streets are deserted, our lorry parks and market zones have been exposed, as they are engulfed in filth.

Clean-up exercise

During these two weeks of lockdown, with little human activity, my expectation is that some clean-up can be done at the personal, individual and institutional levels. It is time to make Accra clean and this exercise can go hand in hand with the fight against the spread and eradication of the COVID-19.

We need to take serious responsibility at the individual level, which has been lacking.

After the two weeks of this partial lockdown, there must be stringent measures to sustain the personal hygiene slogans.

It will require of us to keep sanitising regularly, frequently wash our hands with soap under running water and observe all the other health protocols, including encouraging general hygiene in our families and homes.

It also calls for strong leadership and institutions working, without consideration of protocols. For instance, there must be sanity at the markets, where those engaged in the selling of foodstuffs are made to imbibe cleanliness.

After all, we owe it as a duty to ourselves to keep clean and stay safe, and this should be part and parcel of our daily living.