“So you mean we cannot play football again because of a disease called COVID-19?”
An answer a young man who had just returned from a football game on a Sunday morning gave to an elderly man when he asked about the risk of exposing himself to the virus.
Atta, as he is popularly known in the community, was looking filthy with part of his jersey torn – decisive evidence that he might have fought hard on the field of play.
He was walking lamely with one of the boots on his foot and bandage tied to the left thigh. Atta might have been wounded severely because his face looked low like never before.
The answer he gave the middle-aged man may sound a bit rude but that was how indifferent most people in the town were as far as the deadly virus was concerned.
For the people of Juaso in the Asante-Akim South District, Ghana’s first case of the coronavirus recorded on March 12, was only a national statistics, which had little to do with them.
They went about their normal daily activities, thinking 180 kilometers was too far from the national capital for them to be bothered about the disease.
The younger generation would continue to engage in various social gathering activities despite public education on social distancing.
They threw caution to the wind even when their attention was drawn to the looming danger associated with their actions.
Oblivious to them, the virus was closer than they could ever imagine.
On March 27, a native of the town who had recently returned from the United Kingdom died from the virus at the Ridge Hospital in Accra.
Apparently, the man had spent some few days at Juaso where he showed signs of the disease and was taken to Accra as a suspected COVID-19 case.
Though his blood sample was taken for testing, he died while on admission at the facility and the results would later prove positive.
As expected, news of the man’s death triggered fear and panic in the town as people began looking out for those who may have come into contact with the deceased and probably avoid their company.
All of a sudden, the disease that appeared to be several miles away had become their companion.
Meanwhile, 36-year-old Kwame Mensah had returned to Juaso a week earlier from Accra in an obvious attempt to escape the virus.
Mensah who works at a block factory in the capital city decided to go home to limit the risk of being infected.
He, however, came face to face with the stark reality that the virus knows no boundary and that he himself was a potential carrier of the virus and a threat to his household and close associates, having come from an epicenter of the virus.
With a grim face and looking dejected, Mensah was heard telling a friend that he had regretted coming to Juaso due to the case that had been recorded in the town.
“I thought I was running away from the COVID-19 when I left Accra but here I am even more vulnerable in this town,” he complained.
The posture of Mensah was a true reflection of how the people of Juaso had become conscious of COVID-19, which hitherto was not the case.
It was therefore not surprising how residents responded positively to the contact-tracing exercise by the Municipal Health Directorate.
In just two days, 40 people had been reached, most of who showed up voluntarily.
All such people on the contact-tracing list of health authorities in the municipality are currently being closely monitored for the 14 days incubation period to determine whether they are positive or otherwise.
Half of that period is already gone and the remaining one week is very crucial to the people of Juaso as they live in the shadow of the dreaded COVID-19.