21st June 2024

By Sakinatu Issaka

The emergence of coronavirus, currently known as COVID-19, began in December 2019 before its details were known in January 2020. Since then, drastic measures from the national to the local levels have been effectively implemented by the Chinese government to control and contain the spread of the virus.

When the incident began escalating, different countries, including USA, France, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Mauritania, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Jordan, Iraq and Iran, among others, came to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan.

All efforts by Ghanaian students in Wuhan to be evacuated landed on deaf ears. Recently, the minority caucus in parliament also added their voices and blew the trumpet for the evacuation. The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) also called for an evacuation of African students, including Ghana, but no positive response came out of the calls.

Moreover, Wuhan-chapter president of the students’ association and other Ghanaian students in China suggested that about 300 students in the lockdown city of Wuhan be evacuated as early as possible when the epidemic began to intensify, which supposes that “there is fire on the mountain”.

However, many Ghanaians, including the public health director of Ghana Health Service (GHS), Mr Badu Sarkodie, advised against our plight and grievances, stating we should remain in China and shouldn’t come to Ghana to infest the nation with the virus. This shows how insensitive and unconcerned some Ghanaians home feel for brothers and sisters in the epicentre, China and the diaspora at large. They prefer their colleague citizens to ‘die’ and “become national statistics”, rather than to sacrifice and evacuate them, forgetting the real purpose is “people’s lives first”.

Scary

Current statistics keeps increasing with a death toll of 1369, and 60,311 confirmed 16067 suspected cases as at February 13 2020 at 10:04 am.

Despite the money being given to our executives, on behalf of the Ghana Embassy in Beijing, which made headlines, no one is willing to volunteer to go out and face “Mr. Corona” to buy masks, health logistics, including water, and food for the students. Shortage of water, food supplies and other necessities in our rooms is making life difficult and unbearable.

Most shops have run out of stock in the city so with the money, you can’t even get anything to buy, coupled with the risk involved. My question is: why don’t they rather use the money to buy these items and rather ship them to us?

Meanwhile, as students complain about inadequate masks and health logistics, a minister or mayor donated boxes of masks to the government of China without thinking about the wellbeing of his future “Children”.

Not even one box was labelled to be given to Ghanaians in Hubei-Wuhan since it was coming to the same location.

The government of Ghana has promised to give extra donations. Given this scenario, how long can the government of Ghana continue to give financial support, which could also not be used to buy the necessary logistics due to inaccessibility? Given the current status of the COVID-19, WHO’s statistical updates and vaccine development news, all suggest that it will take about 18 months before a permanent cure will be found.

All schools have been shut down indefinitely and some, including mine, China University of Geosciences, have begun running online tuitions. So, for how long must students continue to live in “anxiety” and “uncertainties” because a head full of fear has no space for dreams.

A study found that SARs outbreak in 2003 in Hong Kong, where the crisis was severe, shared some characteristics with COVID-19. The virus was contracted by people who were staying indoors and obeying the epidemic control measures given by authorities. The study traced the extra source of the infection to be from the buildings domestic sewage system. This infected 321 people.

Therefore, always staying indoors does not guarantee 100 per cent rate of being unexposed.

Transmission

The transmission routes of COVID-19 are through human to human contact, contaminant surfaces and aerosol transmission. A similar mode was found in SARs, which is a mixture of the virus with droplet in the air causing infection after inhalation. Wuhan, as at now, is disinfecting its immediate environs, atmosphere and public places but not considering the sewage systems. This alone is very scary.

Path of its molecules through current Wuhan weather patterns such as turbulent winds, temperature changes and unstable buoyancies will cause more contaminants to circulate in the environment.

Recent update on some local residence in Wuhan indicates that people disinfect their rooms with ethanol and other types of disinfectants, which resulted in fire outbreak due to warm temperature in those rooms. This presupposes that always staying indoors could also be a risk of being a victim of a fire outbreak. In the midst of the crises, no matter how careful one can be, someone somewhere will carelessly do something to affect you, just like viral videos of people spitting in public place like the ATM, elevators, and even on money.

Ongoing measures

Schools are implementing strict measures to control the disease. These include restrictions from going out, main entrances being locked, restricted to room only, movement to just designated places, avoiding crowded places, and washing hands often, among others.

In some parts of Wuhan, due to the rapid rate of confirmed and infected persons, schools and gymnasiums are being converted into hospitals to treat suspected or confirmed cases of the virus, besides the newly built hospital with a capacity of 1000 beds.

Should this not be a good reason for us to be scared of the unknown as a foreigner and a reason to be evacuated? We are staying indoors in Wuhan does not guarantee 100 per cent safety for our lives.

Also as announced, after February 15, Chinese workers will resume work, meaning there will be an increase in movement of people, which will lead to less sanitation and hygiene issues, thereby causing more spread of the foetal disease. This depicts the assertion made by WHO: “The virus will accelerate from ‘epidemic to pandemic’.”

Our cry

We all know that Ghana has a robust health sector capable, with experienced epidemiologist, security services and personnel who can assertively analyses and detain people for health observations. This is just like the national preparedness and response plan for prevention and control of the outbreak of Ebola.

Why won’t mother Ghana listen to the cry of her children in Wuhan and come to their aid?

We really acknowledge the help from both Ghana and Chinese Governments.

However, given the current situation and future risk, we call on government and other stakeholders to help evacuate us from Wuhan and put us under proper quarantine at appropriate places.

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