It is a sunny Thursday and the military and other security personnel are touching up with their last setup for the stadium. The beaming faces of the Ashanti locals show how super excited they are about the venue. Gymnastic performers are also wrapping up with their last rehearsal because Friday, 6th March is the big day.
The Baba Yara Sports Stadium was bathed with the Pan-African colors of red, gold, and green. Hawkers were busy counting their sales because thousands of Ghanaians were present to celebrate the country’s independence. There was no thought of social distancing because there was no case recorded.
As Ghanaians were busy waving their flags and making merry, other countries were packing their dead like sardines because the death toll was moving faster than Bolt.
The third week of March saw many Ghanaians on red alert. The devil was closer than expected. Neighboring countries started their count on a single digit. Sooner than expected, the coronavirus was in Ghana. Our first cases were confirmed on 13 March 2020 when two people returned from Norway and Turkey.
As this was a big blow to some, it was like an answered prayer to other Ghanaians who took advantage of the need to sanitize. Many sold disinfectants and sanitizers at exorbitant prices. Obviously, not a good way of competing with Jeff Bezoz.
The rule was now to observe social distancing and frequently keep the entire body clean.
President Nana Akufo-Addo directed the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to make $100 million available to enhance Ghana prepare and fight the virus. The president went ahead to announce a partial lockdown as a way of curbing the virus.
Some Ghanaians who were living abroad most especially the student in the epicenter never stopped calling for help to return to the country. Within a few weeks, the whole world was on a standstill as if the creator had paused it for a while.
Many struggled with feeding despite the government trying it best to provide food, water, and reduce the price of electricity bills. People longed for a normal day, stressful weeks, and days of being close to friends and families.
The media was quick to announce the increase in figures.
On 15 March, at 10 pm, President Nana Akufo-Addo banned all public gatherings to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at a press briefing on the state of COVID-19. All schools and universities were also closed. Some churches operated online services and accepted mobile money and other online means of payments as an offering.
Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and for Collaborative Research became a popular name in the country as they were the official centers for testing the virus.
As of 17th March, the cases were seven. At this period, the joy of welcoming relatives who just returned from oversees was no more the norm. People didn’t want to associate themselves with travelers anymore as fear heightened
The Minister of Finance also declared in Parliament that the $100 million announced by President Akufo-Addo to fight coronavirus was not ready. This did not go down well, with many Ghanaians lambasting the president for not being honest in such a situation
By the 28th of March, infected persons increased to 68
A life insurance cover of GHC 350,000 under Group Life cover for frontline workers dealing with the pandemic, was announced by the Ghana Health Ministry.
On 31st March, Ghana recorded 161 confirmed COVID 19 cases.
In April, disinfection exercises began and the closure of borders was extended to prevent welcoming new cases.
By 2nd May 2020, the number of confirmed cases reached 2,169 with a death toll of 18. The number of recoveries was 229.
Even though the economy is gradually adjusting at a decreasing rate, a greater percentage of Ghanaians have lost their jobs. Students have a lot to catch up with before their final exams. Some airline companies are giving juicy discounts, but people are still unwilling.
The world is not the same anymore. “Sometimes it takes a good fall to really know where you stand”― Hayley Williams
Ghana currently has over 9000 cases with over 3000 recoveries. Even though the partial lockdown was lifted and movement eased, there is still the need for safety.
There are innumerable lessons to be learnt from this pandemic. We could stand taller again this time. It will take time, but yes we can. To those that lost their loved ones, the Supreme Being has something better installed. To those that lost their jobs, things will soon fall in place. Most importantly to our leaders, you have the mantle and you play god in our lives. However, you are accountable to the public. More than ever we need leadership and we need it now.
yes, we can.
Benedicta Dorcas Tetteh
featured image by Ghana Mission to the UN