A country of some 30 million people. Ghanaians are deeply religious and more Catholic than the Pope. They heard about the coronavirus when it began its unnerving decimation of Chinese society in Wuhan, in the Hubei Province in December 2019. They made jokes and even berated the Chinese for eating exotic creatures, including the bat. Indeed, a section of Ghanaian society also eats the bat. It’s a non-negotiable delicacy.
They felt the virus was far away from them. But more importantly, they were confident their God is too powerful and caring to allow the coronavirus to come near his people, much less devour them. They would fast, they would pray, the virus won’t come near them, not by day nor by night.
This virus is like non ever seen before. It’s new, strange and can harm, even though some survive its attack.
Being closer to God was a much better security from pestilence and plagues than being closer to science. They are investing $200 million in building a cathedral for God, and not a laboratory to advance science and to research into improving the quality of their healthcare.
Not long ago, they spent money, time and other resources to inaugurate and distribute ambulances with ceremonies meant for the enthronement of a king.
They left no stone unturned in building the cathedral. They imported a stone from Israel, dug a deep hole in the foundation of the cathedral and buried it. They believe it has strong spiritual significance and will protect the land and foundation of the cathedral. They believe that no weapon fashioned against them will prosper and no virus, no matter how virulent will come near their land because God was with them.
And while at it, several thousands were coming down with the virus as it spread from China, to Iran to Italy. The Italians harboured the Pope, they are Catholics among Catholics, but the virus swept across their land, living in its trail death, pain and misery. Italy became the epicenter of the coronavirus in Europe.
Then the World Health Organisation declared the situation a pandemic, calling on all nations to do something to stop its spread, Ghana included.
As uncannily gloomy despondency coiled itself around nations with the best technologies, and health systems devouring their best and princely, the people of Ghana still believed God will protect them. While even the mighty federation of America has been brought to its knees by the virus.
Ghanaians held a national day of fasting and prayer to ward off the evil coronavirus. But it wasn’t long, not too long when the virus visited. It first came, they said, through foreign lands. The first two the officials decided to announce were imported. It came from outside, they emphasized. It came from outside our land.
The people have faith, they even believed, the virus won’t survive the heat – the sun is too hot here for it to endure. Some even said it won’t survive Ghanaian blood, because Ghanaians eat a lot of pepper and ginger in their daily meals – from Hausa koko to the famous light soup that is an accompaniment to many condiments, pepper and ginger are often a greater part of the ingredients.
Now it is here. But it was imported, they insisted. Then before long, officials announced some more, and then some more, and then, some more; among the victims are full blooded Ghanaians – eaters of red hot pepper and ginger. They are children of the land, but they also fell to the virus.
“Stay calm,” officials tell the people, “God will protect you,” they said. While the labs, few and in between struggle to keep pace with the request for testing, overburdened and in need of modern equipment and reagents. And so far, only quarantined people seem to be tested – there is no mass testing.
As the days go by, the number reached 152 confirmed, five dead and two recoveries by March 30, 2020. Before it got to this point, the country had decided it was time to close all borders. Stop the influx of people from other lands. But like it is said, ‘you don’t shut the stable after the horses have bolted.’
A partial lockdown of areas believed to be the hotspots is on, and will be for some two weeks; with possibilities of being extended.
The virus is now here, and some Ghanaians, have already died. Many more are likely to test positive, including foreigners who are sneaking into the country, even though all borders are closed.
It is early days, and it is yet to be seen what the full picture will be.
Will it get worse, how worse, before it gets better?
Will God save his people? How many will he save, before it is over?
The coronavirus, the COVID-19 causing pathogen is in Ghana, even though, it wasn’t expected.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi