To extend 2-week lockdown or not:Ghana on edge …as it awaits test results of 19, 276 contact tracing persons

Government is likely to extend the two-week partial lockdown and introduce further measures to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) depending on the test results of about 15,384 out of 19,276 persons who have been identified through contact tracing.

President Nana Addo Dankwa AKufo-Addo, in a televised address to the nation on Sunday, said the test results would determine the government’s future course of action. 

“In the course of the coming week, a determination will be made as to whether or not to extend the duration of the two-week restriction on movement, and the implementation or otherwise of any more enhanced measures to deal with the virus,” he said. 

President Akufo-Addo further indicated that he has, by Executive Instrument, extended the closure of the country’s borders for two more weeks until further notice. 

Justifying the decision to extend the border closure, he said data so far indicates that the overwhelming majority of confirmed cases came from travellers or from people who have come into contact with travellers.

He appealed to the public to be patient and continue to support the government, remain vigilant and adhere to the measures introduced to deal with the problem. 

“Let each one of us play his or her part to enhance our collective efforts at containing the spread of the virus, which will enable us to hasten the lifting of these restrictions, and returning the nation to normalcy,” he said.

He expressed gratitude to the individuals and institutions who have responded to his appeal for donations to be made into the COVID-19 National Trust Fund, which has been established to complement government’s fight against the virus, and to assist in the welfare of the needy and the vulnerable. 

So far, he said a total of GH¢8.75 million has been received for the purpose and commended his appointees who have also followed his example by donating their salaries to the fund.  

“We are in difficult times, and that is why I directed the Minister for Finance to send to Parliament the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP), whose objective is to protect households and livelihoods, support micro, small, and medium-sized businesses, minimise job losses, and source additional funding for promotion of industries to shore up and expand industrial output for domestic consumption and exports”.  

“Through this programme, the Ministries of Gender, Children and Social Protection and Local Government and Rural Development, and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), working with MMDCEs and the faith-based organisations, have begun to provide food for up to 400,000 individuals and homes in the affected areas of the restrictions”. 

“This begun in Accra today, and will begin in Kumasi tomorrow. It will come in the form of dry food packages and hot meals, and will be delivered to vulnerable communities in Accra, Tema, Kumasi and Kasoa,” he said.

Furthermore, he said the government will absorb the water bills for all Ghanaians for the next three months; from April, May and June. 

All water tankers, publicly and privately-owned, are also going to be mobilised to ensure the supply of water to all vulnerable communities, he added.

President Akufo-Addo said the government, in collaboration with the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), business and trade associations and selected commercial and rural banks, would roll out a soft loan scheme up to a total of GH¢600 million, with a one-year moratorium and two-year repayment period for micro, small and medium scale businesses.

By Yaw Kyei

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