The novel coronavirus is likely to continue to spread in Ghana, given that there is a sharp decline in the wearing of nose masks in the Greater Accra Region, which has the highest number of infections.
According to a survey conducted in the Greater Accra Region by the Local Governance Research Institute (LGRI), about 18 per cent of the populace admit that they do not wear the mask at all.
According to the survey, only 32 per cent wear nose mask regularly. Of the 5,450 respondents, only 32 per cent, which is 1,744 respondents, wear their nose mask regularly.
About 109 respondents said they do not have a nose mask while 71 per cent of respondents, totalling 3,870 people, said they carry their nose mask with them all the time.
Of the 5,450 respondents, 5,286, representing 98 per cent, said they own at least one nose mask.
Further, 29 per cent, constituting 1,580 people of the population, admit that although they have at least one nose mask, they do not carry it along all the time.
The survey was to ascertain the level of compliance to the directive by the President and the Ghana Health Service after a month of the directive. The survey was conducted from July 6 - 10, 2020.
The survey was conducted in six areas in Greater Accra; namely, Tetteh Quarshie Interchange, Achimota, Madina, Lapaz, Kwame Nkrumah Circle and Kasoa.
Greater Accra was chosen because it has the highest number of recorded cases of the virus.
The choice of locations was influenced by the number of motorists and pedestrians who commute those routes, as well as the commercial activities around those places.
The study employed both observation and interview as the research approach. A random sampling technique was used to select respondents. With respect to respondents interviewed, 56.72 per cent were males whereas 43.28 per cent were females.
Of the sample size, 2,861 were between the ages of 15 and 35 while 2,589 were respondents aged 35 years and above.
Formal workers constituted 1,132 and informal workers were 2,294, representing 20.77 and 42.09 per cent respectively.
About 2,024, representing 37.14, were students.
The onset of the coronavirus introduced the use of nose and face masks as a prescribed device to reduce the spread of the virus.
The Government of Ghana, local authorities (MMDAs), development partners, corporate organisations, including multinational companies, and some private individuals made donations in this regard to health facilities, public organisations and individuals.
By using the nose or face mask, one reduces the chances of contracting the virus or spreading it further.
In a press release dated April 25 2020, the Ghana Health Service, pursuant to Section 169 of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851), directed "the use of face masks in all public places, especially where it may be difficult to maintain social distancing".
President Akufo-Addo also announced in his 11th address to the nation that the wearing of face and nose masks in public has been made compulsory. To ensure compliance, he signed a new Executive Instrument (EI 164) to back his directive.
According to the EI, it is mandatory for people to "wear face masks, face shields or any other face covering that covers his or her nose and mouth completely when the person is in public or leaving or returning to his place of abode".
The police, per the EI, were legally authorised to ensure compliance. By refusing to comply with the executive order, one commits an offence liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than 1,000 penalty unit and not more than 5,000 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment not less than four years and not more than 10 years or both.
Statistics from the survey indicates that coronavirus is likely to continue to spread since there’s the possibility of pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission, making it even more difficult to tell who is infected.
The disregard for mask wearing by many Ghanaians will result in the continuous rise in new cases.
The LGRI, therefore, recommends that education, sensitisation and prosecution are needed to neutralise the superstitious belief and a false sense of security that some Ghanaians who refuse to wear the face mask have concerning coronavirus.