Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country, people continue to ignore safety protocols with ‘business as usual’ attitudes at funerals and other social gatherings.
Majority of patrons at three funeral grounds the Ghana News Agency (GNA) visited in Jamestown, Accra, were not in nose masks, and a few with nose masks having them below the chin.
There were no thermometer guns to check temperatures of mourners with total disregard to social distancing.
The hundreds of mourners at each funeral ground were seen eating and drinking together, with some eating from the same plate.
Though hand washing stations were provided at the funeral grounds, they were largely deserted.
Madam Grace Okailey Tagoe, a mourner at one of the funeral grounds, told GNA that she washed her hands from home, a kilometer away, before coming to the funeral so, “I do not see why I should wash my hands again.”
The situation was same at pubs and drinking spots in the fishing community, with unconfirmed reports of COVID-19 cases.
A few days ago, GNA observed that markets, malls and shops were chockfull with selling and buying done everywhere, street corners and road shoulders inclusive, neglecting the protocols.
At the Accra Tema Station and the Makola Markets in the Central Business District of the national capital, most sellers and buyers had abandoned the wearing of nose masks.
There was no sight of hand washing stations as used to be the case months ago, before the Yuletide.
It was a ‘bumper to bumper’ situation, as traders meandered through the ‘forest of people’ as head porters screamed “agoo, agoo” to ramble through the crowd.
Matilda Annan, a trader at the Tema Station said provisions were made for washing of hands at the entrance of the Station, but the whereabouts of the facility was not known.
“People do not care about hand washing anymore,” a leader at the Station, who sought anonymity, added.
Akosua Pomaah, a trader at Makola Market, who had her nose mask under her chin, said most customers had stopped using nose masks and that the few people who came with them, had them in their pockets.
Vera Appah, 27, who said she was at the Makola Market to buy foodstuff, lamented about the crowd and disregard for social distancing, saying, both buyers and sellers had to push their way through.
The Ghana News Agency also saw commercial vehicles (trotro) fully loaded, with passengers not in nose masks.
Peter Ayitey, a commercial driver at the Ho Station, near Tema Station, said without enforcement of the protocols, the country could go for a second lockdown and challenged government to enforce the protocols.
“... The taskforces and security persons must wake up and protect us all,” a retired Educationist, spotted in a double layer nose masks with a bottle of hand sanitizer ‘trapped’ in his belt hole, told the GNA.
According to the Ghana Health Service, the country’s COVID-19 active cases have increased to 1,261, with 193 new cases recorded by first week of January, 2021.
As at Saturday, January 16th, Ghana recorded 56,981 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 1,404 active cases, 175 new cases, 341 deaths and 55, 236 recoveries/discharges.
Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, Deputy Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service in an interview with GNA called on the public to strictly observe the COVID-19 safety protocols to contain the spread.
“People do not adhere to the safety protocols any more, even at mass gatherings I have observed that people do not wear mask, they stay at events for more than two hours, people stay at night clubs too all night.”
He said the success of the containment of the pandemic was dependent on the individual, “It is only when a person decides that he wants to be free from the virus that we can be sure of winning,” he added.
Dr. Asiedu-Bekoe called on Ghanaians to take responsibility of their health and observe the COVID-19 protocols for their own safety, saying, “it is pathetic to see that at the entrance of malls, shops and supermarkets, a bold notice which reads ‘no mask no entry’, but you enter and you see that the shop attendants are not in nose masks.”
He reiterated the need for the public to wash hands regularly with soap under running water before touching the mouth, nose and eyes.
Dr Asiedu-Bekoe also stressed the need for all to observe physical distancing, wear nose masks at all times, and disinfects objects and surfaces they touch regularly.
Coronaviruses are said to be a large group of viruses that are common among animals.
In rare cases, they are what scientists call zoonotic-meaning they can be transmitted from animals to humans, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is said to be a dangerous disease with incubation period between 4-6 days.
Signs and symptoms are: fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat, and headache.