President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last Sunday took a bold decision to ban public gatherings in the country as part of measures to control the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Having recorded six cases as of the time of the announcement, the President directed that gatherings including conferences, workshops, funerals, festivals, political rallies, sporting events and religious events such as services in churches and mosques be suspended for the next four weeks.

One would have expected that in the common interest of all Ghanaians in such difficult times, government agencies would have taken the lead in curtailing activities that amass a lot of people at this time.

However, it has emerged that the National Identification Authority (NIA) is continuing with its mass registration in the Eastern Region which has engendered the displeasure of a number of Ghanaians considering the nature of spread of the coronavirus; primarily through human contact.

The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) is the latest to join calls for the suspension of the ongoing exercise on grounds of public health and safety.

The GMA in a statement issued yesterday had not only argued that the ongoing exercise defeated the “spirit and letter” of the President’s directive, but it painted a picture of a looming disaster for the country should the registration continue.

“It is the considered view of the GMA that this mass registration activities by the NIA if allowed to continue could create a fertile ground for potential spread of COVID-19 endangering the lives of staff of the National Identification Authority (NIA), the communities involved and the entire nation in the process.

“This will undoubtedly be fatal for our country,” the association held.

The Ghanaian Times reasons with the call for a suspension of the exercise for the general safety of Ghanaians particularly when there have been media reports of the inability of NIA staff to control the number of people to be registered at a particular time.

The Authority had earlier stated that it had put in place measures to improve hygiene and manage crowds at the centres but as typical of Ghana’s democratic activities, crowd control is always a problem.

“Our centres get too overcrowded. Applicants won’t even go back for us. We have been shouting but still,” a staff had complained in an interview with an Accra based media house yesterday.

The Ghanaian Times believes this is not the time to take things for granted in managing the pandemic which is why we must not leave issues to chance.

We therefore urge the NIA to reconsider its registration exercise in the national interest till such a time that the country has a full grip on the disease. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

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