President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has given hint that the country may go into another lockdown if the blatant disregard for the Covid-19 safety protocols by the public continues.
“We do not want to go back to the days of partial lockdowns, which had a negative impact on our economy and on our way of life. But should that become necessary, i.e., should the number of active cases continues to increase at the current rate, I will have no option but to re-impose these restrictions because it is better to be safe than to be sorry. So, together, let us all ensure that we respect the protocols,” the President said yesterday.
Addressing the nation as part of Ghana’s enhanced response to the coronavirus pandemic, the President said since his previous address some two weeks ago, “we have seen an upsurge in the number of active cases, from a little over 900 to 1,924.”
“Our COVID-19 treatment centres have gone from having zero patients to now being full because of the upsurge in infections,” he added.
200 daily cases
President Akufo-Addo added that more worrying is the fact that the Ghana Health Service is recording, on the average, 200 new cases of COVID infections daily, with the number of patients requiring hospitalisation and intensive care rising.
“The number of severe cases, which stood at 18 a week ago, has increased sharply to 120. Two weeks ago, there was no critical case, we now have 33 in our treatment facilities,” he disclosed.
According to the President, statistics from the Ghana Health Service indicate that the considerable number of persons who are severely ill are, surprisingly, relatively youthful persons, with no previous underlying health conditions.
President Akufo-Addo said the rise in infection was as a result of the abandoned use of nose masks at social gatherings, especially during the festive season.
“Fellow Ghanaians, at this current rate, whereby 13 out of 16 regions have recorded active cases, our healthcare infrastructure will be overwhelmed. If this situation continues, it will severely undermine the efforts Government is making to revitalize the economy, and put our nation back onto the path of progress and prosperity, following the ravages of the pandemic,” he said.
Directive to IGP
The President announced that he has instructed the Inspector General of Police to direct officers of the Police service to ensure the rigorous enforcement of the law on mask wearing at all public places and in public transport.
“They are also to ensure the closure of all night clubs, pubs, cinemas and beaches that may be operating in defiance of the law. They will be assisted by the other security agencies, if need be,” he said.
“Persons in market places, work places, and operators of public transport must conduct their activities in accordance with the hygiene and safety protocols. The wearing of masks in these places is mandatory. Regulatory agencies will undertake random checks to ensure conformity with COVID-19 rules. Should any facility or institution fail to comply with these directives, its activities will be immediately prohibited, and appropriate sanctions applied,” he warned.
Students back to school
With regards to students who are back to school, the President said Government has taken the required steps to ensure their safety. He explained that heads of institutions, as well as their teachers, have undergone the requisite orientation on “Guidelines for school re-opening during COVID-19” to enable them assist with compliance of students to the protocols.
“The world is facing a learning crisis – a crisis that is further worsening inequalities in access to education, with children from poorer homes and communities being worst hit. This learning crisis has serious implications for the future of our country. This is especially worrying for me because I have placed education at the centre of the social and economic progress and prosperity of Ghana, and of her political stability,” he said.
He advised the students to ensure that they religiously adhere to the Covid-19 safety protocols
“As we take these big steps to go back to school, your attitude, your behaviour, your self-discipline will decide whether or not our schools will remain open.
I am pleading with you, please observe the COVID-19 protocols at all times. You must maintain the level of discipline and sense of responsibility to stop the virus from spreading in your schools and, for day students, at home, as well. Wear your masks at all times. Wash and sanitize your hands regularly. Protect yourself. Protect each other,” he said.