The government says it has no immediate plans to evacuate the 151 Ghanaian students resident in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak in China.
This is because it has not received the green light from the National Technical Coordination Committee; set up to assess the country’s preparedness to handle a possible outbreak.
According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the committee had advised that the evacuation should be undertaken “only as a measure of last resort.”
She told a delegation from the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) at a meeting in Accra on Tuesday that the government would continue to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of the students through the provision of food and other supplies.
The meeting, which was to discuss the safety of Ghanaian students, comes on the heels of calls from the families of the students, politicians and a cross section of the public for their immediate evacuation.
Some parents of the students had offered to pay airfare for evacuation, threatening to seek legal redress if the government failed to bring their children home.
But according to Ms Botchwey, the committee made up of experts from various health and security agencies, the World Health Organisation was monitoring the situation and would advise the government accordingly.
On measures taken to ease their plight, she said the ministry had authorised the country’s mission in Beijing to spend GH¢76, 474 for emergency needs, including nose masks, hand sanitisers and food items.
She said additional GH¢267, 500 ($50,000) and GH¢1, 070,000 ($200,000) had been transferred separately to the mission to cater for the emergency needs of the students.
“The mission is working with the student leadership in Wuhan to collate the names and bank details of beneficiary students. The accounts of students are expected to be credited by Wednesday, February 20, 2020”, she said.
According to Ms Botchwey, cartons of assorted Ghanaian food items had been dispatched to the mission for onward delivery to the students in Wuhan.
She said the mission held regular meetings, every 48 hours, with the student leadership to respond to concerns raised by students for possible redress.
She said the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana had pledged that her government as well as authorities of Universities in Wuhan would continue to ensure that the concerns of Ghanaian students were addressed expeditiously.
The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 2,000 people with more than 75,000 people infected since December 2019.
BY TIMES REPORTER