In the morning of March 16, at the KNUST School of public health, he had summoned a group of eminent scientists to his office.
Prof. Sam Newton of Dr Clayton Clay fame, epidemiologist, Dr John Amuasi, and rising public health expert, Dr Arti Singh were ready to denude the spike-robed villain.
Their communion was akin to Buddhist monks preparing to recite some sutras to exorcise an evil spirit.
The virus, which had started munching up a small section of the population had released a ‘demon of fear’ to take away the joy of the citizenry.
Prof. Ellis Owusu-Dabo, as the dean of the School of Public Health was deeply concerned, as if coronavirus was one of his stubborn children whose tantrums were fleeting.
“We’ll be fine,” he threw his quintessentially clean accent to rinse the uncertainty speckled on my heart.
My camera after expressing initial disgust at the glare from the windows had found solace in the white walls and palm-like flora bedecking the corners of his office.
It was then ready to savour the essence from their minds.
“This is not the first time the world is experiencing a pandemic, there have been worst cases in the past,” Dr Amuasi started.
“For all those who came with parcels, bags, whatever, please stay indoors,” Prof. Owusu-Dabo would end with a word of advice as we were two days into the lockdown.
Prof. Owusu-Dabo who together with his team, in a month’s time will release one of the most extensive Covid-19 pieces in the commentary: Covid-19-The Ghana story so far, was certain Covid-19s case fatality would hardly reach 1 per cent for Ghana.
Dr Michael Owusu of the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research into Tropical medicine, KCCR, has been one of the greatest authorities in Ghana’s Covid-19 fight.
As a young scientist who took part in the screening of faeces of over 4,000 bats from Ghana and over 200 bats from 4 European countries for coronaviruses, 7 years ago, 2019’s coronavirus was only a matter of inference.
His fascination for these viruses led him to take a PhD in coronaviruses. His counterpart, Dr Angelina Augustina Sylverken was also cajoled to tread that same path.
At the time, their enthusiasm was fanned by the leadership of Prof. Owusu-Dabo who had risen from Deputy Director after 2 years to Director of the KCCR, spending eight years there.
His mentorship would bear fruits, some few years later, when Ghana was to be in a dilemma with the novel scare.
From the start of the outbreak, the Michael-Sylverken combo had doused the fearsof many, and media demands forced them split.
Their separate attacks against, especially, erroneous public perceptions about the virus have been fierce.
“KNUST Research Scientist opposes GMA’s lockdown call”, “As Ghana’s Covid-19 cases increase, pooling samples cannot continue – Virologist” and “Run-away Covid-19 cases due to fear and stigma – Dr Owusu” are few of the headlines Dr Owusu has made when he stepped into the scene.
Dr Sylverken after several observations would also note: “Coronavirus is behaving differently in Africa.”
“I think Ghana should give you an award” has been a common statement spewed out by listeners on Luv FM’s programme, Luv in The Morning with David Akuetteh, in praise of the duo.
Prof. Owusu-Dabo’s supervision of Dr Aliyu Mohammed to develop a mobile phone-based electronic health information and surveillance system for Africa in 2019 has been crucial in under-five mortality fight.
As the head of KNUST Covid-19 team, he has collaborated with Dr Arti Singh to come up with Covid-19 Techbot, a web-based a risk assessment application.
With an App attracting over 8,000 responses, I was eager to find out more.
“Speak with Dr Singh,” was his response, when I contacted him for an interview.
He would, on two occasions, direct me to speak with one of his mentees. It’s amazing, the confidence he has in them.
When you hear the voices of Dr Michael Owusu, Dr Sylverken or Dr Amuasi, know that Prof. Owusu-Dabo’s voice is silently loud in the background.
With Ghana’s case fatalities still struggling to make a statement, Dr Owusu-Dabo’s confidence is, after all, a thing to behold, just like his over 200 publications.
Indeed, we’re fine!