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Public deserts wearing of face masks

BY: Felicia Kwarteng
A volunteer enforcing the wearing of face masks at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange 

Despite persistent calls on the public to wear face masks when they are out in the open as a means to stop the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from spreading, people are blatantly disregarding the call and behaving as if there is no longer any threat from the disease.

Apart from churches, which still adhere to the prescribed safety protocols, patrons at many social gatherings are not observing the basic rules requiring them to wash their hands, wear face masks, sanitise their hands and ensure social distancing.

The situation has become worse as the festive season of Christmas approaches. In fact, in spite of the fact that masks are cheap, many people are going about their businesses without face masks, and they don’t seem to care too.

On its rounds in the city of Accra, the Daily Graphic observed that most customers who thronged shopping centres in the central business district moved about without face masks.

Calls

In all his addresses to update the nation on  COVID-19, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has always reminded and encouraged the public to observe the prescribed protocols on COVID-19.

The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, has also used all the public platforms on which he speaks to remind the public of the danger in ignoring the safety protocols.

It defies belief to see that people fail to wear face masks when, indeed, their prices have gone down.

The price of a disposable face mask has dropped from GH¢5 to GH¢1, while that of a reusable face mask has also fallen from GH¢5 to GH¢3.

In reality, passengers on vehicles arriving at the central business district do not have their masks on.

In many of the markets visited, such as Makola, Kaneshie and Adabraka, people went about their business without face masks.

Protocols

Some traders who spoke to the Daily Graphic said the weather made the wearing of the masks unbearable.

“The weather is hot and it is very uncomfortable wearing a mask. I wear it occasionally, but not always. All the same, I apply hand sanitiser to protect myself,” James Mensah, a trader, said.

Hannah Marfo, a roadside trader in nose mask, said patronage of the masks was low because of news making the rounds that there was low number of deaths among people infected by the disease.

Moreover, she said, many people did not believe that the virus was still in the system.

Apart from the churches and banks where there is strict enforcement, most places have relaxed the protocol on the wearing of masks.

The police, which are charged with enforcing the protocol, seem to no longer pay any attention.

Nonetheless, the Daily Graphic observed that some young men were enforcing the wearing of face masks at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange.

The young men were dressed in army T-shirts, wore navy green caps and had in their possession handcuffs and canes as they directed people without the masks to buy some before they were allowed to continue on their journeys.

Meanwhile, the ‘enforcers’ declined to talk to the Daily Graphic.

Ada Mohammed, who was stopped by one of the young men, said she was forced to buy a nose mask before she was allowed to board a vehicle to her destination.

Checks from the Ghana Police Service, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and the Korle Klottey Municipal Assembly showed that the young men on the streets at the Nkrumah Circle enforcing the wearing of face masks had not been authorised by any of the agencies mentioned.

The police and an official from the AMA both declined to comment on enforcing the wearing of face masks, maintaining that they did not have the authority to speak on the matter.