This matter has brought me out because someone close to me could be affected.
Yesterday, Bishop Gideon Titi-Ofei announced to the world that he has donated his school facility located at DSTV junction in Baatsona to the government for use as an isolation centre.
He got applause and commendation from many on social media and many others who heard of his gesture. But whilst the rest of the country was happy and singing Rev. Titi-Ofei’s praises, residents of the area where the property is located, have since been agitated.
This morning, as the Bishop came to the facility to collect some furniture and other leftovers, he was confronted by angry residents – the area has some notable politicians and security personnel. One minister in anger asked the Bishop why of all his houses, he will donate this one and not the one he and his family live in? I am told the Bishop was surprised at such a question.
The summary of the concerns of the residents are that:
They have had cause to report to the Tema West Municipal assembly about the deplorable nature of the sewage system of the facility and have witnessed on several occasions when the facility was in use as a school that faecal matter was discharged into the gutter. That all fluids from the facility also pass through the same gutter from the facility.
That the gutter itself has also been blocked by another developer along the stretch of the facility with wood chippings and sand. This means for a while now all fluids and faecal matter from houses along that gutter are now spilling onto the street; which also means should the facility be used, all the fluids will end up where the contractor has blocked the gutter.
There are too many squatters and children who play around especially the children of squatters like to play in the gutters.
That an isolation or quarantine centre is also meant to be a containment centre so if its sewage network is a mess, it exposes the community to higher and more concentrated risks especially for the children.
That the facility is like a boarding school with shared toilets and restrooms – how will Covid-19 patients cope.
The residents are totally rejecting the use of such facility for treating Covid-19 patients and insist that before it may be used (i.e. if authorities still deem it fit to ignore their warnings) they must be consulted and assured about safety measures being put in place especially to deal with the sewage and blocked gutters.
Whilst these are times of crisis and we need to improvise, we should be careful not to embrace cures that are worse than the disease. The Health Facilities Regulatory Agency still needs to be consulted to conduct inspections and engage in community consultations before designating non-purpose built facilities in residential neighbourhoods as isolation centres.
There’s a reason why in most countries these centres have been located far away from residential centres. You don’t want to create a mass contamination situation and accelerate community transmission.