One Hundred and fifty-two Ghanaian students have been caught up in the lockdown of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus, a Deputy Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister, Mohammed Habibu Tijani, has reported to Parliament.
“There are about 300 Ghanaians studying in Wuhan, but 152 have been caught up in the lockdown of the city [and none] has contracted the coronavirus.
“There are ongoing discussions on the possible evacuation of Ghanaian students from China, should the need arise,” he added when briefing the House on Tuesday in Accra on the plight of Ghanaians in China.
The Hubei Province city was on January 23, this year, locked down almost three weeks after the disease was detected to stop its further spread.
Since the shutdown, the 11 million residents of the city, including the 300 Ghanaian students have run out of food supplies, making life unbearable for them.
But the Deputy Minister said steps have been taken to cushion the students.
“Mr Speaker, the ministry on behalf of the government of Ghana has granted approval for the [Ghanaian] Mission in Beijing to expend an amount of 100,000 Yuan (US$4,286) to cater for emergency needs, such as medical masks, sanitisers, and food supplies to Ghanaians in Wuhan and its environs,” Mr Tijani said.
According to the Deputy Minister, after the Chinese authorities initially opposed the evacuation of the students from the affected city, they have now agreed on condition that it should be done by charter flight direct to Ghana.
“This means, evacuees will not be allowed to board commercial flights or pass through third countries,” he explained.
Revealing that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had constituted an Inter-ministerial committee to brief him on daily basis, the Deputy Minister said a National Consultative Committee constituted to coordinate efforts to tackle the disease in case it gets into Ghana would be on hand to deal with all related matters.
Government, meanwhile has dedicated GH₵2.5 million as an emergency fund as part of a national preparedness plan to combat the coronavirus.
The China coronavirus, first detected on December 31, 2019, has killed at least 427 people with the number of cases reaching more than 30,000 globally, according to the World Health Organisation said.
Now in every Chinese province, the virus has spread to dozens of countries, including the USA, the UK, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, UAE, France, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia and South Korea.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI