Ghanaian ‘kayayei’ caught washing and selling used surgical face masks
Face masks are in high demand in Ghana following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, just as personal protective equipment (PPE) are in short supply after the onset of the pandemic.
A recent social media post showing surgical face masks scattered on the floor with some women washing them has gone viral.
The texts accompanying the photos claim the women are Ghanaian head porters popularly known as ‘kayayei’ who were captured secretly washing used surgical face masks retrieved from refuse dumps with plans to resell them in traffic.
A post on Facebook said; “Please be careful you do not buy any face masks in traffic. These kayayei pick them from refuse dumps wash them and resell them in traffic”.”Please, we here at KLC will advise any Ghanaian up there to purchase face mask from the store or the pharmacy or any authorized vendor whom you think is worthy to sell them”.
The country’s two largest cities, Accra and Kumasi, were under partial lockdown between March 30 and April 20.
In his April 19 national address, President Nana Akufo-Addo noted that Ghana ranks first in Africa in the number of Covid-19 tests administered per million people and that the government has scaled up the domestic production and distribution of personal protective equipment to healthcare facilities. The president listed these as among the reasons for lifting the partial lockdown.
But a week later, authorities reported the highest single-day increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases.
On April 28, the Ghana Medical Association expressed concern about the insufficient distribution of personal protective equipment to healthcare workers, after 13 doctors tested positive for Covid-19.
To address the pandemic, the government should ensure that hospitals are fully equipped with personal protective equipment and regularly test staff and patients.