The year of the nose masks
As a proud Molecular biology and biotechnology graduate, with basic knowledge in Virology, it was shocking to read that washing one’s hands with soap and water was a preventive measure for Covid-19. For nothing at all, everyone with basic integrated science background can confirm that among all living microorganisms, viruses are the most harmful and difficult to treat, mostly because they are not living at all. If soap and water was all that was needed, then this virus was ‘koko koraa’, as we say in the Twi language, meaning easy or simple.
Viruses are particles that contain scattered genetic material, either DNA only or RNA only, in a protein coat called the capsid. Covid-19 first broke out in the Wuhan province of China in 2019 and was initially named 2019 nCoV, which implied 2019 novel Coronavirus. It was later changed to Covid-19 which means Coronavirus disease 2019. This virus is a spherical, enveloped, single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) virus belonging to the family Coronaviridae. Its disease is characterized by fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath, and in extreme cases, pneumonia. With most of its symptoms similar to that of common cold, it is extremely important to always get tested to confirm the presence of the coronavirus before taking any medication whatsoever. Samples are obtained for analysis from swabs used in the nasal areas of patients showing symptoms, nonetheless, several patients are asymptomatic and can stay that way for over 14 days.
Currently, the Coronavirus has become a worldwide phenomenon with 62,355,580 cases and 1,455,287 deaths. On the brighter side of life, to quote the words of the chairman general, Kwame Sefa Kayi, there have been a recorded total of 43,045,167 recoveries. Ghana has recorded a total of 51,379 cases with 323 deaths and 50,298 recoveries indicating a 0.082 percentage of the world’s recorded cases. These numbers are records obtained on 28th November, 2020. Although extremely impressive, there is the need to continue following the precautionary protocols as there is the looming danger of a second wave which may prove even more fatal.
As loudly and widely advertised, the most effective safety preventive measures are to wear a nose mask when leaving one’s home, to was the hands regularly with soap under running water, to use a 70% base alcohol sanitizer after touching surfaces and to maintain healthy social distance in public gatherings, including the waakye joint and fufu chopbars. It is however ironic to see masks on the chins and foreheads of people when the name of the mask is nose mask, it literally tells you where it should be worn. Even funnier is to see the masks slightly below the nostrils, my mum does this. Naturally, change is the most difficult change for man and with continuous dissemination of relevant information, the populace would get the hang of it.
As serious a worldwide pandemic as this is, it is also very important to note that other diseases, like Malaria, continue to claim lives. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to access healthcare in any hospital if one has any other illness or condition due to the risk of Covid infection. The Covid-19 has a higher infectivity than mortality rate, and is also highly easily preventable even though there is no cure yet. A collective individual effort to stay safe by following the Covid precautionary protocols could go a long way to minimize the number of admitted patients daily to the hospitals. Our frontline health workers would be eased of several other cases and have reduced risks of getting infected and/or spreading infections, giving them the means of focusing their energy on the Covid-19 patients in order to provide better care. They are keeping us safe at work; let us keep them safe while we stay home. As much as this year has been bitter and we all would wish it a quicker end, let’s keep keeping on, staying safe long enough to see the next.