I came into your homes, on 17th January, to give an account of our COVID-19 situation – a situation which, per available data at the time, was not good.
To this end, I appealed to you, my fellow Ghanaians, to help contain the spread of the virus by respecting the protocols Government had put in place.
The hope was that we would begin to see an improvement in our case count, as a result. Two weeks on from that address, the situation is even worse.
As of Friday, 29th January, sixty-four (64) more people have, sadly, died, over the last two weeks, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths to four hundred and sixteen (416). Our hospitalization rates are increasing, with the number of critically and severely ill persons now at one hundred and seventy-two (172).
Our hospitals have become full, and we have had to reactivate our isolation centres. Our average daily rates of infection now stand at seven hundred (700), compared to two hundred (200) two weeks ago.
The total number of active cases has more than doubled, from a little over one thousand, nine hundred (1,900), two weeks ago, to five thousand, three hundred and fifty-eight (5,358) currently.
When I delivered Update No. 22, thirteen (13) out of the sixteen (16) regions had recorded active cases; today, all sixteen (16) regions have active cases.
Indeed, Greater Accra, Central, Western, Ashanti, Eastern, Upper East, Upper West, Volta, and Northern Regions are the hardest hit, accounting for ninety-four percent (94%) of the total number of active cases.
In effect, fellow Ghanaians, we have a lot of work to do in coming to grips with the disease. Given that recent studies show that the UK and other new variants are being transmitted within the population, we should all understand that our current situation could get very dire if efforts are not made, both on the part of Government and by you, the citizenry, to help contain the virus.
The analysis continues to tell us that the spread of the virus mostly occurs in indoor, confined spaces with poor ventilation, where people are talking, singing, or shouting without their masks.
The imposition of restrictions on our daily routines helped in reducing the prevalence of the pandemic in the country, and Government has been left with no option but to re-introduce some of these restrictions in order to help save the situation.
I know these measures, in the recent past, were unpleasant, but, over a period, they resulted in a favourable situation for our country. We have to return to them.
So, fellow Ghanaians,until further notice, funerals, weddings, concerts, theatrical performances, and parties are banned. Private burials, with no more than twenty-five (25) people, can take place, with the enforcement of the social distancing, hygiene and mask wearing protocols.
Beaches, night clubs, cinemas, and pubs continue to be shut. Our borders by land and sea remain closed.
All workplaces, public and private, must employ a shift-system for workers, in addition to the use of virtual platforms for business or work. Conferences and workshopscan take place with all the appropriate protocols. However, I encourage the use of virtual platforms for such engagements.
Restaurants should provide take-away services, and should, as much as possible, avoid seated services. The National Sports Authority and the Ghana Football Association should ensure compliance with the twenty-five percent (25%) capacity rule in our stadia, with spectators respecting the social distancing rule and wearing of masks.
To the revered leaders of our religious organisations, i.e. our churches and mosques, I entreat you to enforce, to the letter, the protocols relating to attendance, i.e. the two-hour duration, one-metre social distancing, mask wearing, use of sanitizers, and the presence of veronica buckets, liquid soap, and rolls of tissue paper.
I note that, since the re-opening of our schools, two weeks ago, we have witnessed only few reports of cases amongst students. I appeal to school authorities and teachers to enforce the guidelines provided by the Ghana Education Service, and I urge the Ghana Health Service to continue their surveillance at the schools, so we can contain any reported cases.
As we step up public education and enforcement of the protocols on public gatherings, let me also state that regulatory agencies will undertake random checks to ensure conformity with these rules, and the security services will be tasked to enforce them.
You do not have to be arrested by the Police before you wear your mask, your workplace should not be closed for non-conformitywith the protocols, if there is no urgent reason for you to be outside, please stay at home.
Each one of us can help to contain the spread if we continue to practice the measures of social distancing, washing our hands with soap under running water, refraining from shaking hands, and, wearing our masks whenever we leave our homes. These measures must be respected by all.
I urge you, my fellow Ghanaians, to continue to pay attention to your health, improve your fitness levels, and eat our local foods that boost your immunity. Should you at any point feel unwell, or exhibit the most common symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, dry cough, tiredness, please report to the nearest health facility and get tested.
COVID-19 tests are free for all Ghanaians at public health institutions. If a Ghanaian citizen returns a positive result, the cost of care at isolation and treatment centres will be borne by Government.
At the 58th Summit of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, held virtually, it was agreed that the cost of the COVID test for in-bound ECOWAS nationals be pegged at fifty United States dollars ($50) at the Kotoka International Airport.
The cost of the test for non-ECOWAS nationals still remains one hundred and fifty ($150) dollars. ECOWAS nationals and travelers, who test positive, will bear the cost of the mandatory isolation and treatment. Ghanaian nationals, however, who test positive, upon their arrival into the country, will have their isolation and treatment costs borne by the State.
Fellow Ghanaians, in Update No. 21, I indicated that Ghana is set to procure her first consignment of the COVID vaccines within the first half of this year. Since then, a lot of work has been done towards the realisation of this. Our aim is to vaccinate the entire population, with an initial target of twenty million people.
Through bilateral and multilateral means, we are hopeful that, by the end of June, a total of seventeen million, six hundred thousand (17.6 million) vaccine doses would have been procured for the Ghanaian people. The earliest vaccine will be in the country by March.
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) will use its established processes for granting emergency-use-authorization for each vaccine in Ghana. As President of the Republic, I assure you that only vaccines that have been evaluated and declared as safe-for-use in Ghana will be administered.
Government will continue to monitor our COVID-19 situation, and will remain resolvedin ensuring that we are able to return to normal daily routines. I remain hopeful that if each one of us embraces fully the safety protocols, and we continue to put our faith in the Almighty, we will emerge strongly from this pandemic.
My faith in God tells me that this too shall pass! For the Battle is the Lords!!
May God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.
I thank you for your attention.
By: Ahiagah-F Pascal /Sandcity Radio /Keta