The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has called on the public not to mistake the lifting of the coronavirus (COVID-19) mandatory restrictions for an annulment of the safety protocols.
It explained that COVID-19 still lingered and so abandoning the safety protocols and vaccination could result in a retrogression of the strides made so far.
Speaking with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, the Director-General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, explained that not making the wearing of face masks mandatory did not mean the safety protocols were no longer necessary.
He said it only meant that with the strides made so far, people should be able to willingly take responsibility for their health by willingly adhering to the safety protocols and getting
Dr Kuma-Aboagye appealed to the public to continue washing their hands with soap under running water frequently, wear face masks responsibly and adhere to the social distancing principle to avoid catching the virus in the first place.
He emphasised that the wearing of face masks, in addition to vaccination and other safety protocols, would protect dear ones who had not been vaccinated yet or were not eligible, such as people below 15 years.
While appealing to all eligible persons who had not been vaccinated to do so, the GHS D-G reiterated that although the vaccine did not prevent a patron from catching the disease, it protected the individual against the severe form of COVID-19 or death.
“The vaccination is helping so much in the national COVID-19 response, and it is an undeniable fact that vaccination will yield maximum impact if used together with the preventive protocols, such as hand-washing, wearing of face masks and adherence to social distancing,” he emphasised.
He further appealed to the public to continue adhering to the safety protocols because they had complemented vaccination to bring the country this far and said the same was required to either sustain or improve national gains in the COVID-19 fight.
He said apart from boosting the immune system to fight the disease and other health benefits, vaccination was also a way to stop or limit mutations, considered a major challenge in the deployment of vaccines.
Additionally, the D-G of the GHS advised people to be mindful of the risk of post-COVID-19 complications, such as injury to internal organs such as the pancreas, the lungs, the kidneys and brain, medically referred to as long COVID.
“People, particularly the vaccinated, should not take the safety protocols for granted just because they are not at risk of death or severe sickness or because the wearing of face masks is no longer mandatory. This is because the implications of post-COVID-19 complications or long COVID could be dire,” he said.
Following President Akufo- Addo’s lifting of the COVID-19 occasioned restrictions in his update number 28, the Daily Graphic went round to observe how people were readjusting to the lifting of the restrictions.
It was observed that while some people still had their masks on, others were going about their activities without them. In most public modes of transport, such as the trotros, only a few passengers were seen in masks.
But in most corporate institutions, face mask wearing is still being encouraged and most staff turn up to work in them.
In an interview with some face mask sellers, the general concern was that sales had gone down since the restrictions were lifted.
A trader who identified herself as Tawiah said since the update by the President, sales had dropped drastically.
“These days, they no longer buy them because of what the President said. I have been here since 5 a.m. and I’ve sold just two face masks,” she complained.
Another trader, Belinda Nkrumah, also lamented that before the directive, she used to make sales of about GH¢60 in a day, but since the announcement, she hadn’t been able to sell even GH¢10.
She said she was not in support of the President’s announcement.
“Easter is just around the corner and it is going to see many mass gatherings, so on the wearing of face masks, the government should have waited till after the festivities to lift the restriction. What if we record a fifth wave during or after the festive season?” Ms Nkrumah asked.