akufo addo
President Nana Akufo-Addo

Greetings to you President of the Republic, William Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

I, first of all, would want to commend you for all measures you, together with members of the cabinet, have put in place to curb both the vertical and horizontal spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Mr President, believe me when I say this, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes in this trying times.

Your Excellency, in your seventh address to the nation on your government’s enhanced response to combat the coronavirus pandemic, you highlighted a number of efforts made by your government in the fight against the pandemic in the country.

Efforts such as the recalibration of one hundred (100) Regional and District Tuberculosis Gene Expert Laboratories across the country, to help ensure that the country has a minimum situation of one testing centre per region, introduction of rapid results testing to augment the country’s surveillance and enhanced contact tracing efforts, support for the African Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative, chaired by Ghana’s Prof William Ampofo of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research for vaccine development and production, sod-cutting ceremony for the construction of a 100-bed Infectious Disease and Isolation Facility at the Ga East Municipal Hospital, the 2-week further extension of our borders closure among many others.

Notable among the efforts as mentioned in your 7th address is the repeal of the three-week restrictions on movements in the affected areas in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area, Kasoa, and the Kumasi Metropolitan Area and its contiguous districts (the partial lockdown).

But what really caught my attention, Mr President, was your appeal for all Ghanaians to wear a face mask when stepping out as it will help contain the spread of the virus as stated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Like the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently advised, I want to encourage you to wear a mask wherever you go, as it will help you not to contract the virus, and keep it clean. If you own a business, or are providing a service, i.e. a barber, a hairdresser, a tailor, a taxi driver, a trotro driver and his ‘mate’, a shop keeper, a food seller, please do well to use a mask. The Ministry of Health will very soon issue guidelines on face masks for public use, you stated.

With many others (even some health experts) arguing that the nose mask will do little to nothing in mitigating the spread of the virus and favouring social distancing, handwashing and hand sanitizing as the main approach to be used in curbing the transmission of COVID-19, I however, side with WHO and believe the wearing of face masks is equally as potent as social distancing, handwashing and hand sanitizing in the fight against the deadly pandemic. And there is empirical evidence to prove so.

Let’s take the case of Slovakia

Coronavirus confirmed and death related cases in Slovakia have slowed due to the compulsory wear of face masks by citizens when in public – either a surgical face mask or other mouth and nose-covering apparel – directive implemented by the government in the wake of the pandemic. 

As of Sunday, April 19, 2020, (just yesterday) Slovakia had 1,161 confirmed cases with 12 deaths. 

The Czech Republic seeing how effective it has been in reducing cases in Slovakia has also adopted the same measure, and although having recorded over 6,000 coronavirus cases with 181 deaths, the Czech Republic has seen a significant decline in its confirmed cases after having implemented the mandatory face mask wear since a month ago.

Effectiveness of face masks

It is important to emphasize one thing: the masks do not protect against contagion. But its purpose however, is to protect others. Face masks help contain the spread of the virus by blocking the droplets-micro-drops of saliva- in the case of coughing, sneezing, speaking and even breathing which are some of the ways to transmit the virus. And by blocking the infected droplets, the risk of infecting someone else is greatly reduced.

So Mr President, I believe the wearing of face masks by Ghanaians will go a long way in containing the spread of the virus in the country.

But Mr President, to ensure that the majority of Ghanaians if not all, put on face masks, I believe there will be no need for a directive calling for the mandatory wear of face masks by Ghanaians as done in other countries such as Slovakia and the Czech Republic. 

All you need to do Mr President, is to first put on your face mask and Ghanaians will follow suit. Putting on your face mask for Ghanaians to see will persuade Ghanaians to willingly put on face masks without a directive to mandatorily do so.  

I say this because, I have come to realize that Ghanaians easily copy the actions of others, particularly very influential persons such as yourself.

Mr President in case you doubt what I just asserted, let me give you just three instances in which Ghanaians have largely ‘copied’ what you do and say.

Upon assuming the highest office of the land, you Mr President, begun to put on locally manufactured textiles, what we usually term as African prints, and Ghanaians consistently seeing you in them, resulted in a huge surge or demand for the local textiles or African prints by Ghanaians.  

Also, when the pandemic was not yet at our borders and Ghana had not yet to recorded its first confirmed case, a video of you and the Vice President of the Republic, Mahamudu Bawumia greeting with each other with your elbow, saw a large section of the Ghanaian populace copy the act.

And the recent one, which happened during either your fourth or fifth address to the nation in which you made mention and use of the phrase ‘Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area.’

Ghanaians, having noticed your use of the phrase also begun to use it, despite the phrase having existed even in documents as far back as 2011 when the then government rolled out a 93 mega-city project, to properly coordinate and manage the growth and development of Kumasi and some of its six outlying districts which were Afigya Kwabre, Kwabre East, Bosomtwe, Atwima Kwanwoma, Ejisu-Juaben and Atwima Nwabiagya.

So do you now see my point Mr President, no need to issue directives or present a bill to parliament and what have you, to mandatorily require Ghanaians to wear face masks in the nation’s bid to fight the global pandemic.

You just have to wear yours, and as Ghanaians always do, we will copy from you.

Thank you in advance for wearing your face mask Mr President.

Senior Fuaad NiiDodoo Dodoo, is a writer with Ghana’s most comprehensive online news portal, Adomonline.com.