I have stopped opening forwarded videos on coronavirus. I am beginning to be selective with what news on Covid-19 to listen to or watch because I do not want to upset myself with stories on increases in infection rate when a lot of times; we are willfully inflicting it on ourselves.

We are neglecting basic protocols that experts tell us could curb the spread of the virus. How do we expect our cases to plateau or at best, descend with the kind of attitude and practices some people have adopted? The actions and inactions of others are seriously affecting many more in the community at a time when the virus has not revised its notes downward.

The more restrictions are relaxed, the more complacent some people get with business as usual attitudes.

Playing ostriches

Meanwhile, experts are cautioning us about the increasing rise in community transmissions. So why are we playing ostriches and refusing to wear face masks and practicing social distancing which we are told could help reduce the spread of the virus?  Thankfully, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo spoke my mind during his 11th nationwide broadcast on coronavirus update last Sunday night.

Incidentally that Sunday morning, I decided to drive into town to witness how churches had opened or not opened for worshippers one week after the lifting of sanctions on religious activities. As I drove through the Graphic Road towards Ridge, I was astonished to see the sprawling market at the end of the Graphic Road down to the railway line near the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB).

The busy market had spilled over onto the pavements with people actively selling with no face masks and no social distancing. I observed the same problems at another street market in Tudu near the State Transport Corporation’s (STC) Ho station.

I was stunned. How could the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) go to sleep over this allowing these Sunday markets in the first place? The crowds I saw and their mannerisms did not in the least suggest that a disease as serious as COVID-19 was raging. Ignorance or complacency?

But do we need these markets on Sundays when those who want to buy can buy between Monday and Saturday? We are not in normal times and city authorities need to review some such measures for our own good.

Mandatory protocols

If the current spikes in infection rate is not enough warning then I do not know what else would except by matching non-adherence to protocols with stiffer punishment. That is why I am elated with the presidential fiat making the wearing of face masks mandatory in all public areas across the country with police enforcement. One hopes stiffer punishments would be applied since the negligence of one individual puts a lot more people at the risk of contracting the disease. The next action should be a kind of shift system for market women in big markets in order to enforce social distancing.

Reopening of Universities

Less than 24 hours after the President’s directive on mandatory wearing of face masks, final year students at the universities were returning to campus to prepare for their final examinations. Sampling the first day of the return, a journalist who visited the University of Ghana interviewed on camera some students at the precincts of the University’s Jones Quartey Lecture Hall. All the students interviewed or shown in the story had no face masks on. 

They laughed it off when the reporter asked them why they did not have masks on. I wondered if the parents of those students were watching the news item and what instructions they gave their wards as they left home to go back to campus. If this is the attitude of mature young adults, can anyone imagine what could happen in the playgrounds if primary and junior high schools reopen anytime soon?  

We have got to a critical stage where we cannot afford to downplay the ferociousness of coronavirus. On May 13, I was in Kumasi. On my return, I wrote in this column about the casual attitude on display all over in that city, the second epicenter. At that time, the national case count had just crossed 4,000. Today, the figure has escalated by over 200 percent with 12,000 testing positive.

The President summed it up when he said: “Our survival is in our own hands. If we are mindful and self-disciplined, we have it in us to defeat this pandemic ….” Nothing can bring down the infection rate but our attitudes and behaviours. We are our own rescue.

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Writer’s email: vickywirekoandoh@yahoo.com