Akufo-Addo ‘Quarantines’ Ministers … Over fear of coronavirus

By Maxwell Ofori

As part of efforts to prevent the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, President Akufo-Addo has restricted all foreign travels for all public officials.

The fatwa, contained in statement signed by the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare is “intended to protect the general public from contracting the virus. Please take note and ensure compliance.”

As part of measures to prevent the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ghana, the President has directed that all foreign travels by public officials/officers should be temporarily suspended. Only critical travels will be considered.

The about 3-paragraphed circular, addressed to all sector Ministers and their deputies, Regional Ministers and their deputies, all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives and all Heads of Government Agencies, the Chief of Staff stressed that only essential and critical foreign travels will be considered and, thereafter, approved.

The directive comes barely a week after the President announced at the 63rd Independence Parade in Kumasi, Ashanti Region, last Friday that non-essential travel into the country was being discouraged from high risk countries like; China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

He counted on the experts to do their part to safeguard citizens, but stressed that “we all have a responsibility to take measures to help ourselves and each other.”

In that same address, the President admonished Ghanaians to stop shaking hands completely and to cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus disease.

It would be recalled that on 7th February this year, the President constituted a high-powered emergency response team to handle the crisis.

The Team, he said, has been monitoring developments and reporting to him on a daily basis.

He stated that strict checks at Ghana’s entry points are being conducted with rigorous screening procedures.

“Isolation and treatment centres have been designated for potential cases and a Quarantine Centre has been set up. Five thousand (5,000) personal protective equipment for health workers have been procured and distributed to all regions and major health facilities, points of entry, teaching hospitals, treatment centres and selected health facilities,” he said.

Furthermore, the President told the gathering that additional protective health equipment is being procured, together with the ongoing training of health workers in the treatment of the disease.

In advising Ghanaians, he stated that, “the recommendations are for each one of us to practice basic, personal hygiene and be extra careful with sanitation. For the time being, as the Ministry of Health has advised, we have to revisit our custom of shaking hands and stop doing so completely, and we must cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze.”

Whilst praying that “the Almighty continues to shield us”, the President told Ghanaians that time has come for all Ghanaians to pay attention to the health experts and reject all fraudulent claims for cures that will only threaten public health and safety.

“Please listen to, and take seriously, the public education messages being put out by the public health authorities and I urge the churches, mosques, traditional authorities, civil society organisations and opinion leaders to join in helping to keep Ghana safe,” he said.