President Nana Addo Dankwa AKufo-Addo has lifted the partial lockdown announced three weeks ago to restrict movements in the Greater Accra Region, Kasoa in the Central Region and Kumasi and its peri-urban communities in the Ashanti Region as part of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Although the number of COVID-19 cases in Ghana currently stands at 1,042, President AKufo-Addo, in a televised address to the nation last night said the government has put in place appropriate measures to control the spread of the virus.
“Lifting the restrictions does not mean we are letting our guards down,” he said, adding hat the security services and health workers are on standby to identify, impose curfew, test and treat affected persons should there be an outburst in cases in any community in the country.
He noted that the government would monitor hotspots in the capital and lockdown such communities should there be a sudden outburst in those communities.
According to him, the three-week lockdown had given the government the opportunity to contain the spread of the virus, scale-up tracing of persons who had come into contact with infected persons, test them for the virus, and quarantine those who tested positive for treatment.
He said the country had so far tested 68,591 people, with 67,549, that is 98.5 per cent testing negative. Additionally, 99 persons have recovered and had been discharged, with 930 persons, who have been in isolation responding to treatment either in their homes or in treatment facilities.
“The main reason our country has seen an increase in the number of confirmed cases over the last three (3) weeks is because of the decision we took aggressively to trace and test contacts of infected persons. This has enabled us to identify and isolate infected persons, protect the population from further infections, and contain better the spread of the virus,” he said.
The President continued, “Indeed, Ghana is the only other country in Africa to have conducted more than sixty thousand tests, and we are ranked number one (1) in Africa in administering of tests per million people”.
He said the government would continue to enforce the suspension of all public gatherings, including conferences, workshops, funerals, parties, nightclubs, drinking spots, beaches, festivals, political rallies, religious activities and sporting events.
“All educational facilities, private and public, are to remain closed. Businesses and other workplaces can continue to operate, observing staff management and workplace protocols with the view to achieving social distancing and hygiene protocols,” he added.
To operators of public transport, including buses, trotros and taxis, the President stressed that they were to continue to run with a minimum number of passengers, as they had been doing for the last three weeks in maintaining social distancing.
“They must also continue to ensure the maintenance of enhanced hygienic conditions in all vehicles and terminals, by providing, amongst others, hand sanitizers, running water and soap for washing of hands. Domestic airlines are required to adhere to the same protocols,” he added.
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, together with Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, he added, would continue to implement measures to enhance conditions of hygiene in markets across the country, and expand the policy of alternate-days-for-alternative-products to improve social distancing in all markets.
“As has been established, the overwhelming majority of confirmed cases have come from travellers or from people who have come into contact with travellers. It is, therefore, incumbent on us to continue to be vigilant about travelers into our country until further notice, and to congratulate the men and women of the Immigration Service and the Marine Police Unit for their work in securing our borders…. I have, thus, signed an Executive Instrument, to extend the closure of our borders for two (2) more weeks, beginning Monday, 20th April,” the President said.
He continued, “Like the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently advised, I want to encourage you to wear a mask wherever you go, as it will help you not to contract the virus, and keep it clean. If you own a business, or are providing a service, i.e. a barber, a hairdresser, a tailor, a taxi driver, a trotro driver and his ‘mate’, a shop keeper, a food seller, please do well to use a mask. The Ministry of Health will very soon issue guidelines on face masks for public use.”
President Akufo-Addo entreated religious, traditional, community and opinion leaders to partner with government in engaging, mobilising and enforcing adherence to social distancing and personal hygiene practices in their respective communities, and urged persons who had lost their loved ones to bury them, as the morgues in the country were becoming full.
By Yaw Kyei