Adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols in Bimbilla declines

COVID-19 has come to change the lives of all worldwide imposing on the public a ‘new normal’ way of life.

In these uncertain times, it’s even more important for each and every individual to continue to strictly follow the safety protocol recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Worldwide, countries like India that have let their guns down are paying dearly for it and Ghana must take a cue from that.

In Ghana, the Ghana Health Service and the law enforcement agencies are ensuring that people obey the laid down safety protocols but to the residents of Bimbilla in the Nanumba North Municipality of the Northern Region, they have thrown the protocols to the wind, with the reason being that the virus no more exist.

The safety protocols according to the WHO says; people are to wear face masks, wash hands with soap under running water and ensure social distancing by keeping at least two meters apart from each other in public places.

Countries and communities where these have been religiously obeyed, have recorded significantly low cases, indicating that strict adherence to the guidelines is one sure way of curbing the spread.

Unfortunately, people in Bimbilla think otherwise and do not wear their masks when in public places, and it is common to see residents gathered especially at funerals and naming ceremonies without wearing nose masks.

As part of the “Mobilizing Media to Fighting COVID-19” project being implemented by the Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) in collaboration with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Citi News interactions with some of these residents revealed that some do not believe in the existence of the virus again while some think that the weather in Ghana is too warm for the virus to survive.

“Our weather here is too warm, I do not believe that the COVID-19 virus can survive. Even us humans, in the night, we find it difficult to sleep because of the heat, how much more the virus?” Abdul Rahman Issah, a resident in Bimbila asked.

Others are of the view that they have not set eyes on or seen any COVID-19 patient since the outbreak of the pandemic. To them, politicians want to use the whole issue of the virus to make money.

“Look, to me, the virus doesn’t exist. Since last year till date, who has ever seen a patient with the virus? It’s the politician who wants to use it to gain money. Has the government not introduced taxes for that? They know things are hard, and they have to use COVID-19 to fool us.”

Mr Owusu Ansah Opoku, Physician Assistant at the Bimbilla Hospital urged the public to always observe the protocols noting that the virus is real and people must protect themselves.

“We are advising people to always observe the protocols especially wearing of the nose masks. The virus is real. People should not lose guard that patients are not shown or seen. Somewhere, people are dying, and we must take our lives seriously”.

In April and May 2020, congregational prayers in mosques were not observed because of the COVID-19. Muslims prayed in their homes but this year, it’s as if the virus is no more.

Mosques are usually filled to capacity during prayers. And it is not surprising that not many would wear the mask during the prayers.

A cross-section of Muslims interviewed and asked why they were not wearing the mask said, when they fast and put on the mask, they are unable to breathe, and so they have abandoned the use completely in this fasting month.

“Already, if you wear the nose masks, breathing becomes difficult for you and in this fasting month, to fast and wear the mask again is something I cannot do.”

The Regional Crime officer of the Ghana police service, Superintendent Bernard said some engagements with the Imams have been made.

“We have put in adequate measures to ensure compliance. We continue with the mass education on the local FM stations and also reach out to the various Imams to educate the followers on the need to follow the protocols.”

On trying to get the side of the Health service, the Northern regional health directorate said they are embarking on a mass sensitisation of the public and to do some distribution of the personal protective equipment in the various mosques across the region.

The writer is a Mentee under the Mobilizing Media to Fighting COVID-19 project by Journalists for Human Rights

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