The Metropolitan, Municipal and District Information Service Officers in the northern region have been urged to go about their public education and sensitization on the novel coronavirus disease with wisdom and tolerance.
The admonition comes at the time when there are a lot of misconceptions and misinformation in the society about the contagious virus.
At a day’s capacity building workshop organized to empower the information officers over the weekend, the Northern Regional Health Promoter of Ghana Health Service, Hajia Rahinatu Yakubu took the officers through risk communication and social mobilization mechanisms, safety burial procedures among other theories to enhance their knowledge to appropriately inform members of the community.
Hajia Rahinatu during the training told the officers that some people still do not understand what COVID-19 is all about and have the perception that the disease is not real.
She said, “Most at times when you are educating people about it, they ask where is it coming from? Can we describe how it is? So we just give them the characteristics and things that they should look out for.”
She noted one other critical challenge in the public domain is that, some people are saying Muslims should not use hand sanitizers because it is alcohol based, wondering whether it is all Muslims who are saying that or some group of people are misinforming others.
Hajia Rahinatu further disclosed other myth people believe is that, the virus is contracted when you eat rotten tomatoes where as others say it is anthrax.
According to her, people harbour these rumours because they don’t have the right information about the virus.
However, she posited it is only when the right information is given out that these rumours can be demystified.
Hajia Rahinatu maintained the only safety is to take precautions and adhere to frequent hand washing, practice social/physical distancing and other safety guidelines as advised by health experts.
The Northern Regional Health Promoter also emphasized that, in an outbreak such this pandemic, dead bodies are not given to deceased family to bury.
She explained that dead bodies are disinfected with 0.5 percent chlorine severally and kept in a body bag where a burial team together with a relative of the deceased dressed up in personal protective equipment would bury at a designated place in line with the tradition of the family.
“Where there is a pandemic deaths will come, we are not praying that people should die but we are just telling them in case someone dies through COVID-19, the body is not for the community, no one can touch the body, it is only the burial team in the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s) that will give the person dignified burial” she stressed.
For his part, the Regional Director of the Information Services Department, Mr. Ahmed Hussein said the coronavirus pandemic is critical to the survival of the nation therefore, different category of commentators and information officers are selected to communicate in the local language to the populace.
He noted the training has improved the abilities of the officers to manage people’s emotions and also taught how to preach calm and not fear to the public.
“The disease is such that if you are not careful by mere fact that, you want to give information to people, you may end up by frightening them” he added.
“So we let the people understand the fact that you are infected doesn’t mean you are dying but you can be treated and you will be fine to continue your life” Mr. Hussein stressed.
The ISD Boss urged his officers to exercise enough tolerance and patience and not get provoked with trivial issues.