Viral Alert

Here And There
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When I wear a mask in town, I am the odd one out nowadays. I am the paranoid too-known who can’t stop talking about Coro-coro. We have nationwide Covid fatigue, at the wrong time,...

The Aviation Road runs at a right angle to the Spintex Road. One is tarred and usable; one is a wet weather disaster. In the last two weeks, two parties have campaigned on both. The first one was cacophony on a Saturday morning. A motley of bandana wearing, motorbike riding, party colour clad cross section of Ghana chanting political songs. 

They wore no masks.  They dissipated droplets that I could not see.  They spewed viruses I did not know.  But I do know that there is a spike in number of cases.  I do know that some of the centers are filling up with cases. There are more people I hear about testing positive.  And the media machinery I expected to shout COVID19 into our lulling consciousness lies docile.  The information vans that were hurriedly allocated/distributed have been reassigned. The strategies that the health experts loaded our weekly briefings with have disappeared.  The hour-long documentaries on the happenings at the various isolation centres, have faded into memory. 

When I wear a mask in town, I am the odd one out nowadays. I am the paranoid too-known who can’t stop talking about Coro-coro.  We have nationwide Covid fatigue, at the wrong time, because maybe there is a big wave we are already swimming in.  The symptoms are mild, but the best we have against COVID is prevention. And we are not interested. 

I went visiting in a small town near Accra, last weekend.  Mask use was zero.  Business was conducted maskless full frontal.  And young men with bikes filled the streets.  They wore T-shirts with presidential candidates’ names.  There was a lot of alcohol in play.  It was going to be a long weekend, and they would not know when Monday came.

I went back to work today.  We cannot afford to have any COViD fatigue in there.  Our lives depend on it.  We try hard to keep safe.  We push hard not to break protocol. It is a war zone, and there are bullets flying around that we have to protect ourselves from.  There are battles to be fought, and we have to keep standing. We can’t afford to be caught by strays.  So we take cover, and move, take cover and move.  We chase the bogeys of disease, and try as hard as possible not to be caught. 

However…. It takes two to tango.  Street fights are no use, without the backing of an army.  Nowadays, looking around in town, I can’t brush away the sinking feeling.  I am hinking about the people for whom I fight these battles.  I think about my family and the threats that become real outside the hospital as the masks fall off and the boundaries disappear.  As Doctors, we can only really fight the battles in hospital.  It is where we are trained to really fight, not the streets. The battle can be won, if fought in the right place, with the right tools.  If we lose focus, we lose initiative, we lose location, and we lose the war.  

The virus never left.  It is daily adapting, mutating, strategising.  It is already planning for the next vaccine.  The strain that caused havoc yesterday, is already different from that of tomorrow.  A few letters of code knocked off here, and added there, and we have a fresh strain and maybe fresh trouble.  If all we can do as the willing hosts of this virus is to pretend as if COVID19 is history, then we had better think again.  This virus is not playing.  We have poked and played and gotten away with it… over and over again, but we should be careful. 

For the sake of health care workers, mask up. For the sake of our hospitals, and all the people who go in and out on a daily basis, maintain physical distancing.  We do not have a system that is resilient enough for a big surge.  COVID 19 has shown that even in the best countries, health care strategy is easily overwhelmed.  We cannot afford the battle gear that some countries have against this virus.  We have gotten by this far, but we really do not know why. It would be really great to find out the reasons for how well we have thrived against this infection. 

For now, let’s prevent it.