Lifting lockdown, raising vigilance

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The government has cited the impact on the poor and mass testing improvements as a major factor in its decision.

Written By Grace Ayensu-Danquah - President Akuffo Addo’s decision to lift a stay-at-home order in Accra, Kumasi and Tema at a time when the spread of COVID-19 had not been contained surprised many. But while the nation has lifted its lockdown, we cannot lift our vigilance.

The government has cited the impact on the poor and mass testing improvements as a major factor in its decision.

It may be, indeed, true that our economy, dominated by informal sector workers, cannot sustain the same lockdown procedures as the West. Many medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) are dominant in Ghana’s economy (constituting 99.8 per cent of enterprises), have taken a serious hit as a result of the lockdown and its associated financial constraints.

Unlike the middle class, many poor and vulnerable people have struggled to feed their families during the lockdown. Thus, it was no surprise the welcome given to the President’s decision. Some even took to the streets of Accra to celebrate it.

But given that, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) criteria for lifting lockdowns have not been met, we are not yet out of the woods. I urge Ghanaians to avoid interpreting the lifting of the lockdown as the disappearance of the danger.

Going forward, we need to be more vigilant as restrictions on movements are relaxed. In order to ensure that case numbers in Ghana are controlled.

The government must provide the necessary resources for the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Information Services Department (ISD) and other relevant state institutions to intensify public education about COVID-19, particularly in under-resourced communities where access to sanitation may be limited.

The government must resource health care institutions and professionals to carry on with tracing, testing, isolation and treatment of cases and strictly enforce social distancing rules and the ban on public gatherings, including schools, churches, mosques and other social activities.

All citizens must maintain good hygiene by washing their hands, avoiding touching their face and wearing masks wherever possible.

The fight against COVID-19 is the shared responsibility of government and citizens. If every citizen does not take action and play his or her part in following these recommendations, we risk further prolonging this pandemic.

The writer is the NDC Parliamentary Candidate for the Essikado Constituency and a member of the NDC Covid-19 Technical Team.