Ghana’s active COVID-19 cases has reduced to 1,059 as at Friday, August 28,2020.
The number of people who have recovered from the virus is 42,963, with 276 people succumbing to the disease, majority of whom had underlying illnesses, such as hypertension, diabetes and chronic liver diseases.
This was made known by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Sunday evening during his 16th address to the nation on the measures taken to control the spread of the Coronavirus disease in the country.
The President said although the number of active cases continued to decline, in contrast to what pertained in many countries across the world, “we cannot afford to let our guard down. We have to maintain, in a state of constant readiness, the enhanced infrastructure and expertise we have built during the period of the virus to cope with it”.
As of last Friday, the number of active cases was 1,059, down from 1,847 a fortnight ago.
Wear the mask or…
The President expressed grave concern about the rising number of people who were abandoning the protocols altogether, especially in some regions where there were no active cases.
In his 15th address a couple of weeks ago, he lauded the high level of compliance among the populace.
This time around, however, he was not charitable in condemning the diminishing compliance rate of mask-wearing persons surveyed by the GHS in some selected areas of Accra recently.
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“This is not acceptable, as the enhanced hygiene, mask wearing and social distancing protocols must now be central features of our lives, and they must continue to remain so for some time to come until we see to the elimination of the virus from our country,” President Akufo-Addo stressed.
He reminded the public of the severe sanctions imposed by the law for abandoning the protocols, such as the wearing of nose masks, as the negligence of such persons posed a danger to the rest of the population.
The President said where necessary, the law enforcement agencies would apply the measures without fear or favour, ill-will or malice, and without recourse to a person’s ethnicity, gender or religion.
Easing of restrictions
The President further eased some of the restrictions on movement imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
They include the opening of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) to international traffic from tomorrow, amid strict measures to ensure the safety of passengers and workers at the airport and the observance of health protocols.
President Akufo-Addo also announced a phased opening of schools, with the next academic year for pre-tertiary schools shifted to January next year.
Form Two senior high school (SHS) and junior high school (JHS) students are expected to return to school from October 5 to December 14, this year to complete the 2019/2020 academic year.
The remaining time on the 2019/2020 academic year for all nursery, kindergarten, primary, JHS One and SHS One students has been postponed, with the next academic year to resume in January 2021.
However, the President made it clear that the country’s other borders, by land and sea, remained closed to human traffic until further notice.
In his 16th address to provide an update to the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic yesterday, the President said after weeks of thorough work at the airport, including simulation exercises and the installation of COVID-19 testing facilities, “I am satisfied that it is safe to do so”.
“Fellow Ghanaians, I am glad to announce that the Kotoka International Airport will reopen and resume operations from Tuesday, 1st September, 2020. This decision has been communicated to international airlines,” he declared.
He said while it was well established that the first cases of COVID-19 in Ghana were imported, the government was determined to make sure the scenario did not recur.
President Akufo-Addo said the commitment to prevent the importation or resurgence of the virus from accompanying the gradual easing of restrictions, including the reopening of the airport, was firmly in place.
As part of the measures, passengers arriving in Ghana must possess a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from an accredited laboratory in the countries of origin. The test should have been conducted within 72 hours of the scheduled departure from the countries of origin, and all airlines have been instructed to ensure compliance with the directive for all passengers wishing to travel to Ghana.
Disembarking passengers must wear nose masks, and on disembarking, each passenger will undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test at the airport terminal, at a fee to be borne by the passenger. The test result will be available within 30 minutes.
The President said passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 would be handled by the health authorities for further clinical assessment and management, while those who tested negative could enter the country to go about their lawful activities, but would be advised to continue to observe the COVID-19 safety precautions during their stay Ghana.
He said children under five would not be required to undergo testing at the airport.
The ministries of Information, Health and Aviation and their respective agencies — the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Ghana Airports Company Ltd and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority — would spell out in further detail the protocols surrounding the reopening of the airport and the procedures to be adhered to by passengers arriving in Ghana at the COVID-19 media briefing today, President Akufo-Addo added.
Update on schools
Touching on the reopening of schools, the President said a decision had been taken by the Ghana Education Service (GES), after consultation with the relevant stakeholders, for SHS Two and JHS Two students to return to school from October 5 to December 14, this year to complete their academic year.
“With JHSs operating with class sizes of 30 and SHSs with class sizes of 25, SHS Two and JHS Two students will be in school for 10 weeks to study and write their end-of-term examinations.
“SHS Two students in boarding houses are to return to their various dormitories on October 5, while day students, respecting fully the COVID-19 protocols, will commute from home to their respective schools on the same date,” President Akufo-Addo said.
He further said prior to the reopening, all JHSs and SHSs would be fumigated and disinfected, adding: “Just as was done in the case of final-year university, JHS and SHS students, all JHS Two and SHS Two students, as well as all teaching and non-teaching staff, will be given reusable nose masks.”
The President said each school would be provided with Veronica buckets, gallons of liquid soap, rolls of tissue paper, infrared thermometers and 200 millilitre containers of sanitiser, adding that JHS Two students would be given one hot meal a day.
He said assemblies and sporting events remained banned and the use of school premises by outsiders for other activities was still not allowed.
“We will continue to ensure that each school which does not have its own sick bay has been mapped to a health facility and care is provided for the sick by nurses assigned to them,” he indicated.
Academic year postponed
President Akufo-Addo said the GES, after further consultations, had decided to postpone the remainder of the academic year for all nursery, kindergarten, primary, JHS One and SHS One students.
“The next academic year will resume in January 2021, with appropriate adjustments made to the curriculum to ensure that nothing is lost from the previous year,” he said, noting that the relevant dispositions would also be made so that the presence, at the same time, in school of all streams of students could occur in safety.
He said he fully appreciated the inconvenience and the financial burden the continued stay at home of children were imposing on parents and guardians, but said those were a necessary price to pay in the effort to protect the lives of children, as well as limit and contain the spread of the virus in the country.
Sports, beaches, night clubs
The President hinted that in the next couple of weeks, a decision would be taken on the resumption of contact sports, including football, taking into consideration the imminent participation of the national teams in international competitions.
“As a known lover of football, I know how devastating its absence has been, and it is my hope that very soon we will all have the pleasure of playing and watching the beautiful game again. “Until then, non-contact sports are the only sporting events permitted to take place. The beaches, pubs, cinemas and nightclubs are still to remain closed until further notice,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo said all other institutions that had been cleared to function were to continue to do so in strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols.