COMMENTARY IS ON THE FUNERAL OF SIR JOHN AND THE FLAGRANT DISREGARD OF COVID-19 SAFETY PROTOCOLS AND RESTRICTIONS BY THE EXECUTIVE AND OTHER MOURNERS
The deadly Coronavirus pandemic still rages on across the globe. The disease continues to have devastating effects on many nations and innocent people are losing their lives daily. Countries world over, especially in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the far East, Africa, among others, are battling with the disease as it continues to overwhelm medical facilities, drug stocks, equipment and their economies in general, thus imposing severe hardships on their peoples. Even where to dispose of the dead, has become a major headache to some of these countries. In Ghana, the latest update on the disease, shows that 94,011 cases have been recorded, with 92,057 recovered and 785 deaths. That is amazing, anyway, because losing even one life, is not something one will wish for and, therefore not the best for our dear country. But as compared to other countries where the disease has shot up astronomically, one can say the figures in Ghana look impressive but that does not mean we are out of the woods yet. The country is still battling with the disease to ensure total eradication from our midst. Perhaps, the vaccination exercise conducted recently in the country has to some extent, stemmed the tide of the spread of the disease. It appears that complacency has set in and very few people are still observing the WHO safety protocols of handwashing and sanitizing, wearing of face masks, maintenance of distance.
Quite a majority of the people, continue to flout the protocols and restrictions imposed by the government, harboring the notion that the disease has left our shores. To those people, they are deceiving themselves. It is important to note that funerals and outdoor functions, including parties, child outdooring among other functions, continue to be organized across the country, with huge crowd in attendance in spite of the restrictions and the absence of safety protocols. People including government officials and ministers of state who are expected to know better, are themselves involved in these celebrations. It is also on record that bodies of people who died from Covid-19, irrespective of their status in the society, were not handed over to their families and relations for burials by the facilities where they died because of the nature of the disease. Their bodies were kept in the morgues from where they are buried after arrangements with the families involved. Those burials were supervised by the environmental health departments of the various district assemblies. These burials were done to conform to the World Health Organization (WHO) standards and protocols at designated sites earmarked for persons who died of infectious diseases. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his vice, Dr Mahamadou Bawumia, are fully aware of these WHO safety protocols on the burial of COVID-19 dead bodies which they have duly endorsed. It was therefore surprising that, the President and his vice, were spotted among thousands of mourners who attended the funeral of the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie (Sir John), former Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission who was also the former General Secretary of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) which was held at Sakora Wonoo, in the Kwabre East District of the Ashanti Region last Thursday, June 3, 2021. The late Sir John, was said to have died at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra on Wednesday, July1, 2020, after a bout with the COVID-19 disease. Videos of that lavished funeral which trended on social media last week, showed a number of dignitaries including chief executives of some state-owned enterprises, ministers of state, party stalwarts, friends and other sympathizers, filed past the body, some of whom wore no face masks. The pictures were so disturbing in view of the congestion and the flagrant disregard of the safety protocols. The president, himself did not wear his face mask when he delivered his tribute.
Most Ghanaians are asking whether that funeral, which saw the laying of the body in state for viewing, was so necessary, taken into account the fact that the deceased died from COVID-19 disease. Their arguments were that the funeral could have been organized without the body present. It appears that our leaders are not setting good examples for the people to follow and that is very dangerous. If we are serious in fighting this deadly disease from our midst, then irrespective of who you are and the position you occupy in this country, we must be ready to follow to the letter the laid down rules and regulations concerning the pandemic, so that we can deal with it collectively. Let us not have the notion that because most Ghanaians have been vaccinated against the disease, then automatically they are free from contracting the disease. That notion is false and unfounded and has no basis whatsoever. The immunization is just one of the many steps to prevent the contraction and the spread of the disease. That is why the other WHO safety protocols have been set out as a supplementary solution to the vaccination exercise. It is a fact that there is a little risk of acquiring COVID-19 disease from dead bodies as the medical experts will say, but let us not forget that the large crowd present at the funeral, can easily encourage the spread of the disease through respiratory droplets from infected persons nearby. For goodness’s sake, our leaders must set good examples for the people to follow. What is good for the goose, is good for the gander.
Script Is Written by Charles Neequaye, Former Editor, Ghanaian Times