Consequently, the government instituted measures to contain the spread of the virus.
By the end of March, Ghana recorded 152 confirmed cases with five deaths and 22 recoveries, necessitating the locking down of some parts of the country considered to be the epicenters.
So, the Greater Accra and the Greater Ashanti Regions were on March 15, 2020, locked down.
After two weeks, the lock down was lifted but the country’s borders remained shut, schools closed and social gatherings restricted, among others.
On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the virus as the cause of the respiratory illness that affected a number of people in Wuhan City in China and also declared the virus a pandemic.
The pandemic caused great impact on all sectors of the economy. The economic sector for instance saw people losing their jobs.
A new COVID-19 Business Tracker Survey, which was conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), in collaboration with the UNDP, and the World Bank revealed that about 770,000 workers (25.7 per cent of the total workforce), had their wages reduced and about 42,000 employees were laid off during the country’s COVID-19 partial lock-down.
GSS revealed in a survey that about 90 per cent of businesses in Ghana recorded low sales during the partial lockdown period.
The Government of Ghana banned all public gatherings including; conferences, workshops, funerals, festivals, political rallies, church activities and other related events to reduce the spread of the virus.
This affected the social life of the citizenry since movement and gatherings were restricted in the country.
In the world of tourism, all borders were shut, beaches closed, with pubs and bars, restaurants not left out.
Basic schools, Senior high schools and tertiary institutions, both public and private were also shut down. This impacted negatively on the educational sector. Pupils and students stayed home for almost a year with a few having the opportunity to have lessons online.
Some radio and television stations also held lessons for pupils.
A cursory observation indicates a good number of ‘average pupils and students’ have forgotten about things they were taught with a few relapsing into illiteracy.
Kofi Yeboah, not his real name, a Teacher in a public school in Accra, told the GNA that, he is struggling to keep such students in his class, who had been promoted without any academic activity for almost a year.
It is worth stating that, Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) candidates remained in school for their final year examinations amid strict observance of the COVID-19 safety protocols.
Despite the devastating effect of the pandemic on all sectors of the economy, it brought some innovations and creativity along its way.
For instance, local pharmaceutical companies took advantage of the situation to produce hand sanitizers locally.
Fashion designers also displayed their skills in sewing facemasks with some coming out with exotic designs and combinations that became the talk of town.
These innovations arguably sustained the local economy by keeping a few people in the private sector economically engaged.
The pandemic also promoted personal hygiene in the country. Handwashing with soap under running water virtually became a hobby for both children and adults with the country recording a few or no cholera cases in the year.
It also brought reduction in vehicular and human traffic in town and congestion in offices as people were asked to stay at home and work from home.
Thankfully, the government has procured some vaccines and working on more to vaccinate some 20 million Ghanaians towards returning life to ‘normal’.
It has been a long journey of 12 months with lives lost and bitter lessons learnt. A day before the first anniversary, the country, according to the Ghana Health Service, as at midday March 11, 2021, recorded, 86,737 confirmed cases, 4,782 active cases, 272 new cases and 656 deaths.
But the good news is that, the vaccine is here. Let’s go for the jab and observe the safety protocols to stay alive and build our nation great and strong.
By Mary Abena Otoo