His Excellency, the President of the Republic means well and he deserves our support as a people in these unconventional times.
The pressure and burden of COVID-19 is on the shoulders of all Presidents whose countries have been hit by the Virus and rightly so, but we cannot afford to leave the thinking and figuring a way out of this to him and his team alone…..we have to support variously especially strictly adhering to the protocols announced.
Beyond that, I have a few thoughts to share and I hope that it adds to the search for a strategy.
1. The about 50,000 test kits announced by the President as coming must go into strategic testing of different categories of people (Semi-mass testing). I wish we could do mass testing leading to isolations.
If we can make testing available in pharmacies and chemical shops. Just walk-in and let’s take a swap or sample from your nostrils and the inner part of the tongue close to the entrance of the throat in a controlled environment by a well-instructed MCA or pharmacist, we take your details and verify your phone number and next of kin then we take the sample through testing. You’re notified with a quick counseling followed by isolation and tracing and treatment. You will save a lot more people in the chain of contacts. We cannot wait for many to be infected and degenerate into critical cases. We will be overwhelmed.
2. We may not have to lockdown like some nations have done. Our circumstances and dynamics are different and we may have to think of a homegrown solution to our case which may become a model for other African nations. Majority of our people are within the SME- self-employment bracket and they have to go out there and hustle for their 20, 50, etc Cedis before they can send their kids to school the next day. It’s difficult! Instead of a total lockdown of our markets can we take advantage of COVID-19 and straighten arrangements, spacing, and sanitation in our markets and still have people fend and observe ‘social distancing’? That will apply to mechanic shops, chop bars, vending on the streets, etc. if you want to go back to your shop, you should have a health certificate clearing you of Covid-19 and other communicable diseases. Let’s take advantage and fix our system. We do the same for schools. Schools must make sure all teachers and workers are cleared of Covid-19 etc.
3. With public transport, can we reduce the number of passengers per taxi and trotro to say….4 per taxi, 2 in-front and 2 in the back, 3 on a stretch of seats in a 207 sprinter instead of 4 and 2 per Urvan? We are not in normal times! I suggest this so that, the drivers don’t lose too much but we will achieve social distancing.
4. The next address from the President must announce stimulus packages to cushion the private sector to encourage them to shut down and meet their staff halfway……at least tax holidays for your company for being paid half your salary while you stay home is manageable. You can disagree.
We must hear a reduction in fuel prices or subsidies for petrol, diesel and LPG to cushion people in self-quarantine and voluntary lockdown by companies. Students and persons who are in self-quarantine should be assisted to meet their daily survival needs ie feeding, and basic utilities because they would not be going to work. If not, they will have no choice than to step out and ‘survive’ and you know the implications.
5. Let’s take advantage of this and make our country clean and maintain the systems henceforth!
6. Lastly, secrecy spreads the virus.