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Let us not let our guard down — GMA

BY: Dr. Frank Owusu-Sekyere
Dr. Frank Ankobea — President of the GMA
Dr. Frank Ankobea — President of the GMA

A third wave is happening in some countries.

It is not the suffusion of a Mexican wave, which is normally greeted with some excitement.

It is a wave of COVID-19 pandemic currently underway in some countries. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Europe’s case numbers of COVID-19 grew by a million in the short span of 10 days, inching up the total number of reported cases to seven million.

Spain, on Sunday, October 25, reimposed curfew in a bid to curtail a massive surge in COVID-19 cases.

America is touted to be experiencing its third wave, starting when President Trump got diagnosed with the disease in early October.

Cases have increased in astronomical proportions, particularly in some states in North Dakota, where wearing of masks is not compulsory.

Iran, described as the crucible of coronavirus in the Middle East, is experiencing its third and most deadly wave of the coronavirus pandemic since the outbreak started in March.

According to the BBC, Hong Kong is also experiencing its third wave of the virus.

What is instructive is that Hong Kong was considered a poster child in its ability to keep its number of infections down despite sharing a border with mainland China, where the first case was recorded.

Hong Kong was able to avoid a complete lockdown when most countries were on their knees.

Using a combination of strict mandatory 14-day quarantine and electronic bracelets to track new arrivals to ensure they stayed at home for the quarantine period, it was able to keep down the infection rate.

Widespread use of masks, social distancing and hand-hygiene methods were employed to prevent local spread.

Its exemption policy in quarantine for over 200,000 people, such as air crews, seafarers and stock exchange executives has been blamed for the third wave in Hong Kong.

Ghana

The Hong Kong statistics hit very close home because Ghana has also been acclaimed as one of the countries with an effective handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So impressed has been the fight against the virus that one website ranked Ghana as the third most successful country to tackle the pandemic head on.

But that was what Hong Kong used to be, the darling boy in the fight against COVID-19, but now experiencing its third wave.

This is exactly why the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has an uneasy feeling. Of course, Ghana has so far handled the pandemic in a way that tickles the fancy of certain countries, including some affluent ones.

However, a cursory look at people in our markets, funerals, trotros and even in our hospitals shows that people feel the worst is over with this pandemic.

Protocols

The wearing of face masks is becoming exceptions rather than the rule and social distancing is becoming more of a myth.

If we allow complacency to set in, all the gains would be negated and we would be back to much expensive and uncomfortable lockdown.

The GMA taking cognisance of inadequate ventilators, staff and isolation centres should Ghana be hit as hard as certain countries have been, has taken up the mantle to help keep the flame burning so far as continuous fight against the virus is concerned.

In his last address, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo reaffirmed his commitment to zero cases of COVID-19 in Ghana, a view firmly shared by the GMA, and to demonstrate this, several events would be rolled out in the coming weeks to engage the populace on why we should never let our guards down.

Viruses mutate to stronger and more lethal strains if given the opportunity. We cannot allow that to happen in our case.

The tried and tested measure of mask wearing at all times, keeping social distancing and frequent hand-hygiene has worked for us and there is no reason why we should not sustain them.

Activity

In this respect, beginning the first week in November, an educational campaign would be undertaken by members of the GMA.

Various second cycle and tertiary schools have been earmarked to educate and demonstrate how best to wear facemasks - not chin masks, the best way to maintain hand hygiene and to social distance.

Not to be left out are churches and mosques in this campaign.

Various radio and television stations would help to disseminate the message far and wide and the social media space would be used to disseminate short but effective reminders on why we should all keep the flame burning for our collective fight against COVID-19.

Let us all play our part, cooperate with directives given by our superior authorities and be more than ever determined to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic together.

The writer is a member of the Greater Accra Divisional Executive Committee of the GMA
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