The debate to lockdown the country or not was one of the most inconclusive debates that started in the country and ended with what I feel was a compromise between locking down and not locking down.
Parts of the nation considered as hot spots were locked down in an attempt to give Scientist and Epidemiologist an opportunity to understand the disease, do aggressive testing and contact tracing, isolate infected people (mostly self-Quarantine) and treat moderate to severely Ill patients.
This was a conscious effort to enable the public health apparatus to get ahead of the disease and afford the country the opportunity to flatten the curve early so that we can avoid the unpleasant situation of not getting our fragile healthcare system overwhelmed and expose the citizenry to the same fate as our European and American friends.
So we locked down. A lot of agitations mixed with some gratitude from a few saw us being applauded so loudly as a nation for the way we are tackling the challenge of this virus in our own small way. A lot of private and public sectors stepped forward to help in the fight, everyone was beginning to get used to the norm, restricted movement and deliberate attempts to get ahead of the disease.
Whether we were truly getting ahead of this disease was still not clear as the ordinary Ghanaian was never given a clear overview of the details of the Science because the data clearly stated that we needed to restrict movement even more.
And then BAM, the lockdown was lifted at a case count of 1,042 and 9 deaths on April 19, 2020.
Eleven (11) days following this decision which I believe hinged strongly on social and economic science, April 30, 2020, the number almost doubled to 2,074 cases with 17 deaths.
What does this mean? The case surge is almost a vertical line, not that “nice” calming slope we were seeing.
The question which I believe should have been answered before this decision to start the lockdown is; Are we in the position to see it through to the end, not this abrupt end. Your guess may be as good as mine.
We still have not been able to put a value on human life, at least not in any of our reports. So multiply that arbitrary value by 19 and the answer will be. . . Exactly, we do not know that either.
However five questions I hope was answered before lifting the lockdown should include:
1. What is the next strategy because we are not just testing for the sake of seeing how many positive cases we can get but there should be a very clear strategy on what we are doing by increasing our testing capacity this much. Except we are now leaning towards Herd Immunity, in which case, did we need to lockdown in the first place?
2. Can our very vulnerable healthcare system support us should the disease get out of control with our new undefined strategy?
3. Is the number of deaths and new cases declining?
4. Do we have enough PPEs for our frontline workers and most public and private institutions? If not. . .
5. Do we have a strategy to avoid a second wave?
Until we all, as a people have the same clear answers to these very important questions then it will be very bad before it gets worse.
In the meantime, stay home, observe all personal hygienic measures and PRAY.
Dr Hamza Asumah is a Surgeon and Medical Director of Abenkyiman Hospital (a private hospital) in the Bekwai municipality and the founder and managing director of Halo Medical Services, a medical consultancy firm since October 2012. He plays the oversight duty of ensuring the daily clinical and administrative management of these companies.