Ghana: Partial Lockdown Must Be Extended to Check Spread of COVID-19 - Govt Statistician

The Government Statistician has expressed the need for an extension of the partial lockdown (movement of people) to further check the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Professor Samuel Kobina Annim told the Ghanaian Times in an interview yesterday that the partial lockdown had reduced movement of people across regions by 40 per cent and within Greater Accra by 50

per cent as shown by the Call Detail Records (CDR) studies carried out.

The mobility analysis studies were carried out by the Ghana Statistical Service in conjunction with Vodafone and Flowminder Foundation to support the government in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While this is contributing to slow down the infection, there is the need for further analysis to predict the infection rate in the country in the light of the lockdown," Prof. Annim added.

The Government Statistician was optimistic that the movement of people across regions and in the Greater Accra where the infection rate is highest could further slow down with the lockdown.

Professor Annim was not convinced that the 40 per cent reduction in movements across the regions and 50 per cent reduction within Greater Accra Region was enough to slow down infection, hence the need to sustain the lockdown in the high risk areas.

He pointed out the need for the use of data to inform government's decision on lockdown to check the spread of the pneumonia-like disease that has no cure.

The Greater Accra Region, Greater Kumasi, Awutu Senya District and Awutu East Municipality in the Central Region with close proximity to Accra, said to be high risk areas for the spread of the disease, had been on partial lockdown since March 30, through Presidential directive backed by the passage of the Imposition of Restrictions Law 2020.

Residents of these areas, with the exception of essential service providers are to remain indoors to stem the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS -CoV-2) that is responsible for the widespread COVID-19 across the globe that originated from Wuhan, China.

Hand washing with running water using soap, use of alcohol based sanitiser, social distancing are encouraged to break the rate of transmission.

At the last count, Ghana had 313 infections with six deaths and there is fear of further hike in the infection as the Ghana Health Service (GHS) awaits results of contact tracing.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on his previous broadcast to the nation said Ghana was approaching a critical point as to the "future course of action" as the GHS was due to receive 15, 384 results of persons reached out through contact tracing.

Shedding more light on the CDR, Prof. Annim said the anonymised and aggregate data from the mobile network operator helped to understand the " mobility patterns of the population" to improve decision making" as a result of the lockdown.

He emphasised that the study was not intended to track conversation of callers adding "the data from the Telcos strips off all issues related to identity, the conversation content and other personal data."

Prof. Annim explained that the study was meant to "approximate the proximity" of the caller to the cell tower in a geographical location.

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