A virologist at one of Ghanaâ€™s foremost biomedical research institutions, the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR), has warned about a likely third wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the country in the wake of India's ongoing battle with a new strain of the virus.
Dr Michael Owusu said unless the Ghanaian public intensifies coronavirus safety protocols the new variant of the virus that has hit India, B.1.617, could slip into Ghana from the Asian country and wreak havoc.
â€œThe problem happening in India is what is giving the world some cause of concern. India is havingÂ B.1.617. That one has [the] same transmissibility as B.1.17; and because the behaviour of this one and the UK are very similar, it is highly likely that if it enters any country, it is going to take that country into the third wave,â€ he told JoyNews.
India is currently battling a debilitating third wave of the pandemic.
Indian media has since the beginning of May been flooded with images of patients lying on stretchers outside hospitals waiting to be admitted amid scarce hospital beds and critical oxygen supply.
â€œAs deaths soar, crematoriums and burial grounds have been swamped with bodies, and relatives often wait hours to perform the last rites for their loved ones. The situation is so dramatic that among those calling for a strict lockdown are merchants who know their businesses will be affected but see no other way out,â€ reports the AP.
Speaking on the development in India and how it heightens Ghanaâ€™s likelihood of a third wave, Dr Owusu said the huge population of India is the critical factor.
â€œIndia has close to 1.3 billion people just like China. And for such high populated country, it means whatever they have, once they move and travel out of the country, everywhere they go, they are likely to see that country with this variant we have.
â€œWhen people are not behaving well and you even have one person who slips through here at the airport, that person can easily infect many people and that can contribute to that. I mean weâ€™ve seen the churches that have these mass gathering,â€ JoyNews quoted Dr Owusu in a report.
India has a vibrant community in Ghana with Indians living in the country estimated to be hovering around 10,000. Ghana is also among the favourite African destinations for many Indians.
Dr Owusu has urged Ghanaians to continue adhering to the safety protocols and said the security agencies must clamp down on those who donâ€™t.
â€œWe have to ensure that people do what is right; one is the education as what we are doing, and two, we have to continue to enforce the law. For those who flout this would be arrested, and those who donâ€™t put on their masks should be prosecuted,â€ he added.
Ghanaâ€™s currently managing an unstable second wave of the virus with 1,531active cases, as of May 6, 2021, according to official figures from the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
Although Ghana has rolled out completed the first phase of a coronavirus vaccination exercise, there are fears that a lax in the wearing of nose masks in public by many Ghanaians and the adherence to other COVID-19 protocols could undo successes chalked to hold the spread of the virus.