The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Sunday, 19th April, 2020, announced the lifting of the restriction to movements of persons in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area and Kasoa, and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area and its contiguous districts.
According to President, the decision to enforce the 3-week lockdown was taken to give Government the opportunity to try to contain the spread of the virus, scale-up effectively the tracing of persons who had come into contact with infected persons, test them for the virus, and quarantine those who tested positive and isolate them for treatment.
He explained noted that, with Ghana having received the test results of some 68,591 contacts, and with the majority of tests being undertaken over the last 3 weeks, 1,042 persons, i.e. 1.5%, have been confirmed as positive, with 67,549, i.e. 98.5%, testing negative.
Additionally, 99 persons have recovered and have been discharged, with 930 persons, who have been isolated responding to treatment either in their homes or in treatment facilities.
"The main reason our country has seen an increase in the number of confirmed cases over the last three (3) weeks is because of the decision we took aggressively to trace and test contacts of infected persons. This has enabled us to identify and isolate infected persons, protect the population from further infections, and contain better the spread of the virus," he said.
The President continued, "Indeed, Ghana is the only other country in Africa to have conducted more than sixty thousand tests, and we are ranked number one (1) in Africa in administering of tests per million people".
Thus, President Akufo-Addo explained that "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, I have taken the decision to lift the three (3) week old restriction on movements in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area and Kasoa, and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area and its contiguous districts, with effect from 1am on Monday, 20th April."
In effect, the President stressed that, Monday, 20th April, 2020, "will see the partial lockdown in Accra and Kumasi being lifted."
Other measures in place
President Akufo-Addo was unequivocal in his statement that the lifting of the partial lockdown in Accra, Tema, Kumasi and Accra, does not mean we are letting our guard down. All other measures are still firmly in place, and have not been relaxed.
"In here, 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.
To operators of public transport, including buses, trotros and taxis, the President stressed that they are to continue to run with a minimum number of passengers, as they have been doing for the last three weeks in maintaining social distancing.
"They must also continue to ensure the maintenance of enhanced hygienic conditions in all vehicles and terminals, by providing, amongst others, hand sanitizers, running water and soap for washing of hands. Domestic airlines are required to adhere to the same protocols," he added.
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, together with Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, he added, will 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.
"As has been established, the overwhelming majority of confirmed cases have come from travellers or from people who have come into contact with travellers. It is, therefore, incumbent on us to continue to be vigilant about travelers into our country until further notice, and to congratulate the men and women of the Immigration Service and the Marine Police Unit for their work in securing our borders... . I have, thus, signed an Executive Instrument, to extend the closure of our borders for two (2) more weeks, beginning Monday, 20th April," the President said.
He continued, "Like the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently advised, I want to encourage you to wear a 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."
President Akufo-Addo entreated 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.