At about 6 am, I opened up the Bolt app to order a ride. Bolt is the second most popular ride-hailing service here in Ghana. After 3 minutes, my ride arrived, exactly as indicated on the app. With my face already adorned with my nose mask, I sat inside the car with a muffled breath of relief, thankful for the short wait. I took my Carex hand sanitizer from my bag, and squirted a generous amount onto my palm while I exchanged pleasantries with the driver. He only set off once I had confirmed my destination and I was finished rubbing my hands with the sanitizer. For the first time in over 3 months, I was leaving home to go to the office and I was excited but unsure of what to expect. The pandemic seemed to be rolling up its sleeves; the number of infections kept increasing by the day and the pandemonium resulting from all the information I was being exposed to on television, radio and other sources was starting to get a bit overwhelming. They weren’t always helpful and some were just downright stupid. it appears a lot of us are merely living with COVID-19.
These, as well as the opposing views from policy makers, dominant political parties, leaders and the usual scandal or two was starting to get to me. The traffic wasn’t heavy (there were barely any cars) and in addition to the advertisements that usually lined the roads, were new flyers and posters that informed about COVID–19. Despite this, not everyone I saw was wearing a nose mask and some of these people I saw were at bus stops waiting for trotros. Don’t even ask about the one-metre distance we have been advised to keep between each other. Some trotros that we passed by even had more passengers than the required number as per advised. And more than 80% of trotro mates were not even wearing any face mask. as for touching faces with unwashed hands, the least said about it, the better. Do you remember the Lower Class? If we don’t take time, we will merely be living with COVID-19 when we can really take safety precautions and be safe.
At points where hand – washing equipment was mounted, I felt sad at how people were using it. Most of the hand-washing stations were not automatic, which means people have to operate them by themselves. Everyone turns the tap handles and after washing their hands, turn them off before wiping their hands dry with a large paper towel. These hand-washing stations were mostly mounted Veronica buckets. At a point, we stopped to allow some pedestrians cross and I noticed someone wash their hands so hurriedly I wondered if an angel of God was beckoning them urgently to come lest the gates of Heaven close. That person wasn’t the only one to wash in this manner. Most of them were merely wetting their hands with the water and wiping them dry. If we are not careful, people will even ‘pick up’ the virus at designated ‘safety points’. I call them safety points because these are the points where we are supposed to observe safety protocols and keep safe from the virus yet these are the same points where we are more vulnerable to the virus.
Sometimes you go into a shop and they ask you to use hand sanitizer, then you have to hold it yourself and press it. When I look at how some people are holding the container to press the sanitizer, I would rather walk away than go and hold it too. Same thing for soap bottles at hand – washing stations. One other protocol we are advised to practice in helping to reduce the spread of the COVID–19 is to use e–payments such as mobile money (momo) or with bankcards using the POS. Should I shock you??? Well, some shops and tellers will let every customer enter their momo number in the machine! Then they will use some rug to wipe it after and say they have sanitised it! I thought the e–payments option was because we wanted to reduce contact with other people? So what is the point if everyone is still touching the machine? Imagine if 50 people out of the total number of people who walk into a shop are touching the POS device, let’s imagine together.
I was discussing with a friend that it would be a good idea if shops make provisions that allow customers to scan whatever they buy by themselves, and then tellers or shop attendants
don’t have to touch the items people are buying. It will reduce contact between people and help reduce the spread of COVID – 19. Hand-washing stations which are not operated automatically should have one person in charge of dispensing soaps and water for people. This will also help reduce the spread of the virus. Some organizations are already implementing this. Big ups to you! Public places should also have just one person handling the door. If you go to places where you have to open the door by yourself, please use your elbow or shoulder to open the door if you can, or use your hand, but make sure to sanitize immediately after. Shop owners should also consider keeping their doors open if they cannot afford to have someone opening and closing the door for customers and clients.
If you can do Internet banking, please bank from home. The
nose and mouth mask can be very uncomfortable to have on, but let’s try to keep them on when we are in public places. Most importantly too, let’s observe the one-meter distance wherever we are, you never know where the virus is hanging. The reason we need to observe the safety protocols is more because the virus seems to be changing, new symptoms are coming up each day and we are still not sure of its cure yet! Like my little friend Nakeeyat, winner of Talented Kidz season 10 always pleads, ‘I beg you, please observe the COVID–19 safety protocols, because I need you alive’. Let’s not take for granted the things we are advised to do, our lives depend on each other now more than ever. Then also, let’s try as much as we can to show love to victims of COVID–19. The fact that people have the virus doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a death sentence, instead, let us help them get all the necessary information and health care so that the risk of getting the virus is reduced for us all.
We are also told that COVID–19 affects different people in different ways. Most infected people will develop mild to moderate symptoms and recover without hospitalisation. But we need to always make sure that whatever symptoms we feel are actually COVID–19 related before we take any medication. Since we cannot see the virus with our eyes, it’s best to call the helpline 050 949 7700/ 055 843 9868 or visit a health centre for diagnosis and treatment. COVID–19 has made things different and a bit difficult but we can do it. We can take care of the people we love by being extra careful and taking care of ourselves. If we have been able to quickly learn other forms of saying hello other than a handshake, I trust we will be able to get used to the other developments that are supposed to keep us safe from COVID–19. And there is this irony to be observed even as most people are getting used to saying hello with their elbows; if people are advised to sneeze into their bent elbows and greeting with the same elbows, wouldn’t it still lead to the spread of the virus? Just a food for thought!
COVID-19 is real, COVID-19 is deadly, COVID-19 can be prevented if we do the rights; the right thing is to observe the safety protocols prescribed by World Health Organization (WHO) and Ghana health Service (GHS), COVID-19 is no respecter of persons, but together we can win the fight! Lets us not merely live with COVID-19! And say no to COVID-19 stigmatisation. This too shall pass! CHEERS!!!