Before December 2019, certain expressions such as COVID – 19, Social distancing, lockdown, contact tracing, personal protective equipment (PPE) self – isolation among others were not too familiar with many of us.
These terms gained popularity after the emergence and spread of the novel Coronavirus. The COVID – 19 started in China in December 2019 and in just a few months, it has become a global health crisis. According to the World Meter report, as of 7th May, 2020 the virus has infected 3,861,398 and killed 267,062. This is a heartbreaking report.
My heart goes out to the families of the victims. The COVID – 19 outbreak in Ghana is a serious issue because it has disrupted economic and social activities. On a more negative note some lives have been lost.
In an attempt to contain and control the spread of the virus, the government under the leadership of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has put in place certain mitigation measures and control measures.
Among the measures were lockdowns, restriction of public gathering, closing down of schools, border closure, and public education on the need to adhere to some protocols. In order to ensure that certain restrictions are legally enforced, the government enacted the imposition of restriction Act 2020.
To mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic, the government has established COVID – 19 alleviation program fund of GH₵ 1.2 billion. According to the Ministry of finance GH¢ 600 million of the fund will serve as a soft loan to cushion micro, small and medium – size business that are worst hit by the pandemic.
The government has also subsidized electricity consumption of residential consumers and businesses for three months which amount to GH₵ 1 billion. The Bank of Ghana has also initiated certain monetary policies to improve liquidity of banks in order to lend to businesses, especially those that are worst hit by the crisis.
It is worthy to mention that the various initiatives and programmes put in place by the government to control the spread of the virus is laudable. However, as individual we also have a role to play in order to prevail over the pandemic. This article will discuss why individual responsibility is necessary in the fight against COVID – 19.
Why individual responsibility is necessary
- Life is involved
The COVID – 19 pandemic is deadly and therefore can cut short our lives if the case become critical. The European Commission Chief Ursula Von der Leyen asserted that fighting COVID – 19 is a question of life and death. As already mentioned globally 267,062 have already lost their lives. This implies that we should not take chances as individuals. Rather we should see it as a matter of individual responsibility to protect ourselves, families and neighbours against being infected with the virus. This requires that we obey the various directives issued by the government and health authorities such as social distancing, washing of hands regularly, wearing face masks, not touching ours eyes, staying at home when you have no serious business to perform among others.
- Love for neighbour
It has been revealed that most of the people infected with COVID – 19 in Ghana are asymptomatic which means that they do not exhibit signs and symptoms. This is dangerous because they can unknowingly infect others. This will no doubt affect the lives of the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions since they are more vulnerable. To demonstrate love for your neighbour, do your utmost to follow all the safety protocols in order to protect yourself and others. According to our Creator, the second greatest commandment is love for neighbour. This therefore makes it crucial to view the fight against COVID – 19 as individual and community responsibility and not only the government. As we want to show love to others, it is best to stay home when we are sick in order to avoid the spread of the virus.
- Experience the support of individual responsibility
Experiences from countries such as Hong Kong, South Korea and Denmark support the fact that individual attitude and responsibility contribute positively towards the fight against COVID – 19. Literature indicated that in Hong Kong people adopted voluntary social distancing.
Furthermore, people have strong individual sense of responsibility to fight the COVID – 19 because they remember the 2003 SARS that hit them worst.
In Denmark, literature shows that individuals are willing to stand together for a common cause and this impacted the effectiveness of the measures the government put in place to fight the virus. The literature further shows that, individuals feel a moral duty to make sacrifices for the sake of Public Health. The good example set by the Citizenry of Denmark and Hong-Kong in the fight of COVID -19 is something that we as Ghanaians should imitate. We should have a sense of responsibility to comply with the government directives because they are meant to protect our lives.
Let’s bear in mind that, we are not living in normal times and therefore we should conduct ourselves with self-discipline and sacrifice to control the spread of the virus. In the president’s 7th address to the nation, he made mention of the need for individual Ghanaians to apply the 3S in all aspects of our dealings even without the lockdown.
The 3S are sense of selflessness, self-control and self-discipline. There is no doubt that the qualities mentioned are essential in the fight against COVID -19. Therefore, we should do our best to display them. Dr. Samuel Kaba Akoriyea also asserted that the fight against the virus is the people and how discipline they are. The Director General of World Health Organization emphasized the fact that the fight cannot be effective without the full participation of Citizenly. The assertions made by these experts bring to our notice about individual responsibility to fight the spread of the virus by following all safety protocols.
- Duration of the pandemic
Globally, there is uncertainty about how long COVID -19 will remain with us. Currently, some countries have been able to flatten the curve while others have seen resurgence. According to the World Health Organization, the virus will be with us for a long time. It is worth mentioning that, our attitude and sense of responsibility with respect to adherence to the various directives issued by the government and health authorities will determine how quickly we can win the fight against the virus.
Currently, a lot of restrictions imposed by the government such as religious gatherings, sporting events, and mass funeral service among others have not been lifted. There is no doubt that the restrictions would be reviewed depending on suppression of the virus. In his 7th address to the nation, the President said that “Whenever a situation warrants in a community in which the virus is identified as becoming prevalent, will be lockdown”.
The statement means that the lockdown is not over. Therefore, it is imperative that we exhibit discipline and a strong sense of responsibility to curb the spread of the virus so as to go back to our normal life. As a soccer fan, I believe you are longing for the day in which the restriction will be lifted. If this is the case, then do your best to obey the precaution measures put in place.
- Mode of Transmission
It has been argued that SARS – COV – 2 (the virus which causes COVID-19) is spread by people and not the virus itself. Why? According to WHO the virus spreads primarily from one person to another person through small droplet from the nose or mouth which are expelled when a person with COVID – 19 coughs, sneezes or speaks. The droplet could be inhaled leading to contracting of the disease. This is why it is important to observe the physical distance protocol. The droplet can also land on surfaces and objects. People can become infected by touching the contaminated objects and surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose or mouth. This is another reason why we have to wash our hands regularly and apply sanitizer. Once again as individual, you have the responsibility to practice hand and respiratory hygiene, maintaining a physical distance and wear nose mask among others. Those precaution measures will help to flatten the curve of the COVID – 19 and also prevent our health system from being overwhelmed.
- Threat to the economy
The COVID – 19 is a health crisis as well as economic crises. At the macro level, the COVID – 19 can have a negative effect on revenue mobilization. The Bank of Ghana has projected that in the worst-case scenario economic growth will contract to 2.5%. At the micro-level, the pandemic is posing a serious threat to livelihood, income and employment of individuals. To avert a serious deterioration of our economy and also ensure swift economic recovery, we should observe the various precautions measures, so as to reduce the reproduction rate of the infection (R factor) to an ideal level. All of us have a role to play to flatten the curve of the COVID – 19 so as to ensure a resilient and robust economy. Please, bear in mind that if we don’t change our behaviour to control the spread of the virus funds meant for development projects would be channelled to fight the disease.
Thus far, the article has highlighted the fact that, the fight against COVID – 19 is a collective responsibility and therefore we should work in unison as Ghanaians. May we all do our best to comply with all the preventive measures and directives by the government and health authorities.