Following the directives and protocols regarding the novel Corona Virus COVID-19 from the Presidency and the Ministry of Health, businesses in Wa the Upper West Regional Capital have begun taking precautionary measures.
When GBC’s Mark Smith visited some shopping centres in the Central Business District of Wa, water and soap had been provided for customers to wash their hands before entering their shops. Staff of the shops had also put on gloves in handling items at the shops.
At the Melcom Shopping Centre at Wa, it was observed shop attendants were seen disinfecting shopping baskets with a disinfectant while other shop attendants were helping customers to wash their hands. One supervisor who wanted to remain anonymous mentioned that all the staff had been provided with personal hand sanitizers and gloves. Staff who did not receive nose masks improvised with their scarfs and other materials.
Corona Virus prevention measures were also on full display on the televisions for sale at the shopping centre.
At the Fidelity Bank in Wa, it was observed that the bank seats have been spaced in the hall to meet the one meter social distancing protocol put in place while the Bank’s tellers had put on gloves to avoid direct contact with the bank notes and coins.
Meanwhile, trading activities have not slowed down at the Central Business District. Traders wore nose masks or scarfs around their faces. Some who spoke off-the-record said they had taken hand washing seriously and willing to report suspected symptoms to health facilities.
EDUCATION ON HOLD
Checks by GBC in Wa Township indicate that all private and public pre-tertiary institutions and tertiary have been closed.
Drivers of school buses did the usual rounds through town very early in the morning to inform parents who had not heard of the closure of the schools. Students from the Senior High Schools were seen carrying their luggage home from school.
The Upper West Regional Library had also been closed to the public. At the time of the visit by GBC’s correspondent, some children were at the premises trying to access the facility after the closure of their schools.
Other school children who were home from school took the opportunity to play football and socialize.
Interacting with GBC’s Mark Smith, the children indicated that although they were not entirely aware why they were asked to stay home, they knew they would be home for a while.
The Acting President of the Ghana National Association of Private Schools (GNAPS), Dr Damasus Tuurosong encouraged private pre-tertiary institutions and parents to consider home tuition while mainstream schools have been closed. He said this will prevent students from idling while on the indefinite break.
He suggested that school children could be clustered in number of not more than 10 and tutored while those with adequate knowledge in technology could visit online platforms to study.
The Acting President of GNAPS, who doubles as the proprietor of the Tupaso Centre of Academic Excellence, said in adherence to the social distancing protocols, classes have been moved to the Assembly hall to enable enough spacing. This will allow final year students at the second cycle level to continue their preparations towards the final exams. Dr Tuurosong also said hand washing facilities have been placed at the entrance of the school to allow for thorough handwashing.
WA RUNS OUT OF HAND SANITIZERS
Meanwhile, pharmacies in the Regional Capital Wa have run out of hand sanitizers, latex hand gloves and some immune boosters. Prices of the few remaining products had shot up by more than 200 percent in some cases.
A Pharmacist at one of the Pharmacies in Wa who wanted to remain anonymous said the following day after the announcement that 2 persons were infected with the novel Coronavirus, they ran out of the hand sanitizers and hand gloves. The Pharmacist said individuals bought the products in large quantities.
When asked about the price hikes, she explained that the wholesalers had increased their prices forcing retailers to pass on the cost to final customers. She told the GBC that a 236ml ‘Hand Rx’ hand sanitizer which sold for ¢13.00 before the COVID-19 scare is being be sold at more than ¢50.00 because the whole sale price has been pegged between ¢40.00 and ¢50.00.
The Pharmacist added that a 600 ml bottle of hand sanitizers now being sold for ¢150.00 from an initial ¢25.20. Prices of gloves and face masks had all seen sharp rises, all owing to hikes by wholesalers and suppliers.
The Pharmacist mentioned that sales of some immune system boosters like ‘Immunace’ had more than tripled. Variants of Vitamin C tablets were also selling quickly.
At the Melcom Shopping centre, the Supervisor mentioned that new directives coming from their head office in Accra required that when they take delivery of new consignment of hand sanitizers, gloves and face masks, they should not be sold to customers in bulk. This, he said, will allow everyone interested to get a few bottles for use.
Other business centres have however mentioned that they are in the process of restocking their shelves.
Story filed by Mark Smith.