Accra, April 19, GNA – President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Sunday lifted the three-week restriction to movement of persons in Accra, Kumasi, Tema and Kasoa, effective 0100 Hours, Monday, April 20, 2020.
However, all other enhanced measures and protocols, including closure of borders, ban on social and religious gathering, and the strict adherence to social and physical distancing, is still in force to halt the rate of spread of the COVID-19 in the country.
In a national address, President Akufo-Addo explained that even though Ghana’s case count had increased over the past three weeks to 1,042 person from test results of 68,591 contacts, and with 67,549 of that number testing negative for the virus, the decision to lift the restriction on movement was backed by data and science.
He pointed out that the main reason the country had witnessed an increase in the number of confirmed cases over the period of movements restrictions due to the aggressive tracing and testing of contacts of infected persons, which “has enabled us to identify and isolate infected persons, protect the population from further infections, and contain better the spread of the virus.”
Thus, “In view of our ability to undertake aggressive contact tracing of infected persons, the enhancement of our capacity to test, the expansion in the numbers of our treatment and isolation centres, our better understanding of the dynamism of the virus, the ramping up of our domestic capacity to produce our own personal protective equipment, sanitisers and medicines, the modest successes chalked at containing the spread of the virus in Accra and Kumasi, and the severe impact on the poor and vulnerable,” necessitated the lifting of the restriction on the movement of persons, the President held.
President Akufo-Addo however stressed that the lifting of the partial lockdown “does not mean we are letting our guard down. All other measures are still firmly in place, and have not been relaxed.”
“I am referring to 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.
The President further called on operators of public transport, including buses, trotros and taxis, to continue to run with a minimum number of passengers, and to maintain established social distancing and hygiene protocols both in their vehiclkes and terminals.
He said the local Government and rural development ministry, in collaboration with the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, 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.
The President further advised all and sundry to wear face 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.”
He also admonished 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 are becoming full.
To the bereaved, he encouraged “to conduct private burials of their loved ones, but ensure that the twenty-five (25) person limit is not breached… Indeed, some are burying their loved ones now, in order to have the final funeral rites later. The morgues in the country are becoming full, and will, in themselves, soon pose a public health hazard. So, let us act quickly on this.”
Noting that though the country would continue to record new cases of infections, particularly with the policy of aggressive tracing and testing, the President assured that Government had put in place the appropriate measures to isolate and treat them.
“Should there be an unexpected outburst in infections within a community, I have put the health workers and the security services, including the Police Service and the Armed Forces, on standby, to co-ordinate a rapid response of human and logistical resources, if necessary, to cordon, impose a curfew, trace, test, and treat infected persons in the affected community.
“Indeed, the focus of Government’s policy and action will be based on the implementation of the 3Ts, i.e. tracing, testing and treating. In any event, stay at home, unless it is absolutely essential,” he stated.
“Our success in defeating the virus is largely within our control. That means each and every one of us must exercise, at all times, during this period without the partial lockdown in Accra and Kumasi, a strong sense of selflessness, self-control and self-discipline.
“It is important to stress strongly that coming out of the partial lockdown in Accra and Kumasi does not mean we are out of the pandemic. We will continue to monitor closely events in some hotspots in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area like Weija Gbawe, Ga East, and Ayawaso East Municipalities, and Tema Metropolis, and in the Eastern Region, like Asuoygaman and Lower Manya Krobo Districts.
“Whenever the situation so warrants, a community in which the virus is identified as becoming prevalent will be locked-down, until there is a clear understanding of the trajectory of the virus that will allow us to contain it. We must obey the measures still in place, including the new ones, because we know our survival depends on them, and, the harder we are on ourselves in obeying them, the quicker and more enduring will be the victory.
“To Ghanaians in all parts of the world, I urge you to remain steadfast in abiding by the rules and regulations that have been put in place by your host countries to combat the virus, and I extend the condolences of all your compatriots at home to all families abroad who have lost their loved ones to the virus,” the President said.