Government has empowered the security forces to enforce the partial lockdown of certain parts of the country in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has said.
“Let me also reiterate that the ban on public gatherings, religious or social, is still in force. Anyone, irrespective of status, religion or ethnicity, who is found to be flouting them will be dealt with fully in accordance with the law,” President Akufo-Addo stated in his address to the nation on Friday on the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
“The security services have been clothed with the necessary power to enforce these measures, and I assure you that they will do so responsibly, but without fear or favour, ill-will or malice,”
He said the Government had succeeded in halting any more importations of the virus into the country; adding that “and I thank the overwhelming majority of you for adhering to the good hygiene and social distancing protocols announced in my first broadcast to you”.
He said, however, prevailing circumstances meant that stricter measures had to be put in place to contain and halt the spread of the virus within the country, especially in Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Kumasi, which were identified by the Ghana Health Service as the “hotspots” of the infections.
“In doing this, we cannot afford to copy blindly, and do all the things some other well-developed countries are doing,” he stated.
He said there was no one-size-fits-all approach to this pandemic; adding that the situation the country was unique and the Government must take it into account in dealing with the disease, whilst meeting all the six key World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on the most effective ways of combating the pandemic.
“Even though it may be said that the number of our infections is still, relatively, low, if we act now purposefully, we have a chance of preventing an escalation of our numbers,” he said.
“So, effective 1 am on Monday, 30th March, some forty-eight hours from now, I have imposed, pursuant to the powers granted the President of the Republic, under the Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012), restrictions on the movement of persons in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), which include; Awutu Senya East), and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area and contiguous districts, for a period of two weeks, subject to review.”
He said it would give the Government the opportunity to try to halt the spread of the virus, and scale-up effectively contact tracing of persons who had come into contact with infected persons, test them for the virus, and, if necessary, quarantine and isolate them for treatment, should they prove to have the virus.
“This, in essence, means that everyone resident in these areas must stay at home for the next two weeks. However, if you must go out, it must only be to get essential items such as food, medicine, water, undertake banking transactions, or to use public toilet facilities. But, as much as possible, stay at home.”
He noted that there shall be, during this period, no inter-city movement of vehicles and aircraft for private or commercial purposes for the areas of the restrictive measures, except for vehicles and aircrafts providing essential services and those carrying cargo.
He said riders of motorbikes were not allowed to carry any additional person, and all intra-city passenger vehicles, such as trotros and taxis, must reduce the number of passengers in order to observe appropriate social distancing and hygiene protocols.
The President said additionally, all commercial vehicle stations shall observe appropriate hygiene protocols and social distancing; declaring that the Ministry of Transport had engaged the transport operators and unions in this regard.
He said the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development also engaged with the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies and the leaders of the market associations in the country to make satisfactory arrangements about the operation of the markets that ensure observance of social distancing and enhanced hygiene protocols; in any event, only persons involved in the food value chain can operate in the markets during this period.
President Akufo-Addo said to accelerate the contact tracing process and ensure curtail the spread of the virus in the shortest time, we will use the military and police to assist health authorities to expedite the process.
He said the Government would also pursue a policy of testing all contacts of people tested positive.
“It is very important that we protect all health care providers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to make sure they do not contract the virus in the process of protecting our lives,” the President said.