Joy Sports’ Gary Al-Smith in an unexpected post on June 18, announced that he had contracted the dreaded novel coronavirus.
He disclosed his status via social media as part of his effort to keep his friends, family and well-wishers up to speed with his condition from the University of Ghana Medical Centre in Accra.
Gary is one of five members of staff at The Multimedia Group who have tested positive for Covid-19.
The JoySports editor and the four other affected team members, all asymptomatic, have been isolated in line with case management protocols and are responding well to treatment.
“After consultation with my family, we have decided that from tonight, I’ll be speaking on radio and TV about my experience,” he wrote on Facebook.
True to his word, the hearty journalist was on the screens Thursday night for his segment on JoyNews Prime.
In a conversation with anchor Ernest Kojo Manu, he revealed that his decision to show up for duty even after confirmation of his status is one way he believes the fight against stigmatisation of Covid-19 patients can be accelerated.
“Support is incredibly important. If you know somebody with Covid-19. This is not the time to distance yourself. Reach out because it can get lonely at this time,” he said while emphasising that he was doing well and that “Covid-19 is real.”
A cross-section of social media users and his colleagues sent messages of goodwill to encourage him through the recovery process.
Sometimes, the job will take you so close. In such circumstances, you ask for protection from the almighty. Speedy recovery to @garyalsmith and my other colleagues who have tested positive for #Covid_19. It shall be well. pic.twitter.com/XYmzolq7Qt— Fred Smith (@fredkuukusmith) June 18, 2020
Gary Al-Smith is one of my favorite journalists. Hope he beats this !— ALLEN OBENG ASARE (@MenameisAllen) June 18, 2020
JoyNews has since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus covered a number of stories of stigma suffered by patients, recovered individuals and health personnel following their contact with anything Covid-related.
President Akufo-Addo in his last address to the nation on Covid-19 case management bemoaned the attitude of some Ghanaians who have been shunning the company of individuals who test positive for Covid-19.
These among others are what seem to have compelled Gary Al-Smith to champion the agenda towards demystifying the disease and help stop the stigma.
Could this move have emboldened other infected persons to toe the line?
Other carriers have since Gary’s pronouncement, publicly announced their positive status. One of such individuals is a frontline health worker, Dr Kwabena Antwi-Boasiakoh.
“I just received my Covid-19 test result. I have tested positive,” he said on Twitter.
I just received my covid-19 test result. I have tested positive.— Kwabena Antwi-Boasiakoh (@Dr_QuabenA) June 18, 2020
Last weekend, I became febrile last weekend and decided test on Monday.
I am currently doing well. No longer febrile and feels healthy.
Keep me in your prayers
Dr Antwi-Boasiakoh has also been at the receiving end of many well wishes since his announcement on the social media platform on Tuesday night.
Stigmatisation has been cited by many health experts as a major impediment militating against the country’s bid to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.
As personalities in the limelight come forth publicly with their status, Ghana can only remain hopeful the development becomes the fuel that powers the engine of change in mindsets as we join hands to eradicate the canker.
You don’t need to be a carrier to champion the cause against stigma. Get educated on the health protocols, stay safe and spread love. Stop the stigma.