Ghana risks a second wave of COVID-19 if the public continues to loosen precautionary measures.
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has warned that a second wave of the pandemic can be more terrible than the first if people do not keep to the safety protocols.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, the Director of the Health Promotion Division of the GHS and Leader of the Risk Communication for COVID-19 National Task Force, Dr Dacosta Aboagye, said the posture of the public was causing a gradual rise in active cases, and that if care was not taken, the nation would see a major rise soon.
Active cases of the disease had risen from 309 to 589 within the last few weeks, with the number of deaths standing at 320.
“This recent increase is attributed to non-compliance with the safety protocols by Ghanaians and the low perception that the infection is gone,” he said.
Dr Aboagye asked the political parties to organise their activities in a way that will not draw back the progress made in the fight against the disease.
He said mass gatherings at political events, without recourse to the safety protocols, especially the wearing of face masks by attendees, were a recipe for new infections.
“People have thrown caution to the wind and are no longer wearing face masks; people are not washing their hands or sanitising as they should and this is dangerous for us as a country,” he said.
He cautioned that although Ghana was doing well in the fight against the COVID-19, it was not out of the woods yet.
That, he said, required that efforts be sustained on the safety protocols, such as hand-washing, hand sanitising and wearing of face masks.
According to Dr Aboagye, public education must be intensified, with the help of queenmothers, chiefs and celebrities, to create awareness of the need to adhere to the safety protocols.
He asserted that Ghana’s weapon against the COVID-19 was the safety protocols, adding that non-adherence to them came with serious consequences.
“The case count is shooting up; I plead with Ghanaians to know that they have a responsibility to adhere to the safety protocols because if everyone complies with the safety protocols as we have put down, the cases should be coming down.
“We need the media, queenmothers, chiefs and celebrities to help in the public education on the COVID-19,” he said.
“We also need the Ministry of Information to help frontline health workers to intensify the education on the novel coronavirus, so that everyone knows that the cases have started going up,” he added.
Dr Aboagye said the real challenge in the fight against the pandemic was adherence to the safety protocols because every Ghanaian knew about the existence of the disease, hence the need to continuously educate the public on the protocols.
“The issue is that behavioural change is a process, and it is true that we are introducing something new to our culture; for instance, the wearing of masks and social distancing. So we have to continuously talk about them before they can sink well and effect changes in Ghanaians,” he said.
He said although an executive instrument (E.I.) had been introduced to enforce compliance with the safety protocols, it would take the collective effort of Ghanaians to make compliance achievable.
Furthermore, he said, individual responsibility was key to the success of behavioural change.
Another challenge highlighted by Dr Aboagye was stigmatisation, as many infected persons did not report at hospital on time due to stigma.
He, therefore, implored Ghanaians to visit the nearest health facilities if they noticed signs and symptoms of the virus.
He alluded to the fact that majority of people who reported on time, in spite of their cases moving from moderate to critical conditions, survived and recovered.
However, he said, those who were rushed to the centres died within 48 hours due to late reporting.
Dr Aboagye said the GHS would continue with public education and community engagements and leverage the incoming nationwide yellow fever campaign to educate Ghanaians on the safety protocols of the COVID-19 and the need for adherence.