“So you mean we cannot play football again because of a disease called coronavirus?”

This was an answer a young man, who had just returned from a football game on a Sunday morning gave to an elderly man when reminded of the risk of exposing himself to the virus.

Atta, as he is popularly known in the community, was covered in dirt with part of his jersey torn – a clear evidence that he might have fought hard on the field of play.

He was walking lamely with one of his boots on and the left thigh covered in swathes of bandage. He might have suffered a severe injury during the game.

The answer he gave, sounded a bit rude but that was that showed how indifferent many people in the town were to the coronavirus pandemic that has sent leaders across the world scrambling to deal with.

For the people in Juaso, the capital of the Asante-Akim South District, Ghana’s first confirmed case of the pathogen, reported on March 12, was not anything they needed to worry about – it had nothing to do with them.

They went about their normal routine with the false sense of security that, their place, a distance of 180 kilometre from the national capital, Accra, where the first case of the virus was reported, was too far away for them to be bothered.

It was business as usual, especially for young people, as they continued to engage in social gatherings – ignoring public education on social distancing.

They threw caution to the wind even when their attention was drawn to the looming danger of their recklessness. Unknown to them, the virus was closer than any of them could ever imagine.

On March 27, a native of the town, who had recently returned from the United Kingdom died of the virus infection at the Ridge Hospital in Accra.

The man had spent some days at Juaso before he started showing symptoms of the infection, rushed to Accra and admitted at a health facility.

His blood sample was taken for testing but before the test result, which proved positive, came in, he had passed away.

As should be expected, news of the man’s death, enveloped the town in fear and panic. The people began, desperately looking out for those he might have come into contact with, to avoid them.

Suddenly, there has been a reality check – the disease after all is not far away as anybody initially assumed.

Another man, 36-year-old Kwame Mensah, also returned to Juaso, a week earlier from Accra, ostensibly to escape the virus.

He works at a block factory in the capital city but decided to come back home to avoid the risk of catching the flu-like virus.

He has come to realize that he got it all wrong, the virus knows no boundaries. Grim-faced, Mensah was heard telling a friend that he had regretted returning to the place.

“I thought I was running away from the coronavirus when I left Accra, but here I am, even more vulnerable.”

This thinking is shared by the entire population of the area – they now appreciate that they are neither very far away nor immune to the global pandemic.

It was therefore not surprising that they responded positively to the contact-tracing exercise carried out by the Municipal Health Directorate.

In just two days, 40 people had been reached, majority of them voluntarily.

All those on the contact-tracing list of the health authorities in the municipality are currently being closely monitored for the 14 days incubation period to determine whether they are positive or otherwise.

We are already done with half of the incubation period and the remaining seven days are going to be critical – the anxiety is been growing.


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