The COVID -19 era and spit gymnasts
Saliva , a necessary part of any life form ( I may be using life form loosely here because I assume that plants are also a life form yet they do not have saliva. I will thus limit my exposition to life forms walking the earth with blood flowing through their veins), yet a danger to life. The great homo sapiens.
Saliva helps in the effective lubrication of our mouth (very essential mind you), carrying food down our throat dealing with all kinds of things in our mouth and generally helping us to react to a number of external issues.
A number of studies have shown the role of saliva in being a necessary gatekeeper and helps prevent the spread of pathogens to the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts (Ruhl, 2012). Saliva is thus very critical in our life.
With the onset of SARS COV 2, our precious gatekeeper has become a potential killer. The virus causing COVID -19 is usually transmitted through droplets as the experts have been saying. This then brings me to an issue that has been troubling my mind over time; Spitting!
What is spitting? I describe this as that act of spewing liquid from one’s mouth often with great precision.
Ghanaians have a very uncomfortable habit of spitting. They spew in different ways. Some do it in a straight line curving at the last minute before it hits the ground. They should direct that skill to throwing the javelin. Others throw globs reminiscent of the shot put. The most interesting is those that are able to push it out in the space between their maxillary central incisors, ah such precision, if only it can be applied to better things.
First thing in the morning they spit. After using either the chewing stick or sponge they spit. Even after using regular toothpaste they proceed to spit. I wonder if their salivary glands work overtime! The most distressing issue is when you encounter people sitting in a public transport. They are the day spitters. They lean out of the window and spit with alacrity. they also love to sit in the front seats. This can be most distressing if you are a passenger at the back and your window is open, may you such sufferers receive my sincere sympathy.
However, the issue at hand is the effect such liquid gymnastics can have on us in these times. The various news items have educated us on how the virus stays airborne over a number of hours before settling on the ground. So, what happens if the spit gymnast (my special word for one who spits randomly yet with some precision) is an asymptomatic person? Think about it.
Government has laid out various guidelines stemming from WHO guidelines which are helping check the spread of the virus. However, I believe our honorable Minister of Health in conjunction with the Ministries of Communication and Information respectively will need to adjust their guidelines to include NO SPITTING. The spittle is a major carrier of the virus that we have not concerned ourselves with and it moves easily in the wind after a boost from our spit gymnasts. We have all emphasized on the need to cough or sneeze into tissue or our elbows. That is to a large extent okay however the effect of coughing or sneezing into the air or open space has very much the same consequence as spitting free range. The same droplets are being transmitted.
Fellow Ghanaians, if I may borrow from Mr. President, let us look beyond the regular guidelines and know that we are all at risk from these spit gymnasts. Our honorable parliamentarians please make the work of the enforcers swift by passing a directive to ban free range spitting and keep innocent babies and toddlers who cannot wear a mask safe from errant droplets.