Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, has lifted the three weeks restriction on movement in parts of the country implemented earlier to mitigate against the spread of COVID-19.
“…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 1 am on Monday, 20th April. In effect, tomorrow will see the partial lockdown in Accra and Kumasi being lifted,” the president announced.
In a televised address on Sunday, April 19, Mr Akufo-Addo said the decision was made based on the basis of the country’s ability to undertake aggressive contact tracing of infected persons, the enhancement of its capacity to test, the expansion in the numbers of treatment, provision of isolation centres, and a better understanding of the dynamism of the virus.
Other reasons given by President Akufo-Addo for the suspension of the ban on movement are the ramping up of the country’s domestic capacity to produce its 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.
The President added that the suspension of restrictions on movement does not mean the government has let down its guard. However, he affirmed that the ban on mass gatherings and the closure of Ghana’s borders to human traffic remain in force.
“I must make it clear, at the outset, that lifting these restrictions does not mean we are letting our guard down. All other measures are still firmly in place. For the avoidance of doubt, the earlier measures announced on Wednesday, 15th March, which have been extended, are still very much in force, and have not been relaxed,” President Akufo-Addo added.
Four major cities in the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Central regions had been under lockdown since March 31, following confirmation of 137 cases. The president at the time said the decision was based on science and data and that future course of action would be determined by these same factors.
The president urged Ghanaians to wear masks wherever they go.
“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,” he said.
Reactions of the Public
Some security analysts and health experts say the president’s decision was hasty and could have serious repercussions on the country.
Ghana’s Coronavirus Case Count
Ghana’s coronavirus case count has increased steadily since the index case was reported on March 12 and has spread to 10 of its 16 regions.
A total of 1,145 positive cases have been confirmed as of April 23. The majority of cases are in Accra and Kumasi. Of the number, 120 persons have recovered and have been discharged while nine have died.