Ghanaians allowed No. Five (5) of the Fourth Republic into their homes again. He brought them kola from Peduase Lodge on the Hills of Aburi, 31.4 kilometres from the capital Accra (44 mins drive via N4).
It is the18th time since President Akufo-Addo started to provide updates on the measures government has been putting in place in response to the deadly pandemic-- COVID-19. And it's his first outside the presidential palace-- Jubilee House.
Remember, he who brings kola brings life.
He's good tnews for the people of Ghana.
A nation readying to go to the polls in less than 51 days. First, the virus appears to be losing his venomous fangs and his activity also reduced.
But he also urges the people to continue to mask up and keep all the hygiene protocols including social distancing measures. The President believes by so doing we could kick the dragon to the curb.
There's no curfew, no partial lockdown and no declaration of National Emergency. This is in sharp contrast with what is happening in Europe and the United States which are experiencing second wave.
"I am speaking to you tonight from Peduase Lodge, after having just completed the last Cabinet Retreat of Government for this year, and I thank you for allowing me into your homes once again."
During my last update, a month ago, we had a total of five hundred and seven (507) active cases. Forty-five thousand, two hundred and fifty-eight (45,258) persons had recovered, and two hundred and ninety-seven (297) persons had, unfortunately, died," President Akufo-Addo announced."
Indeed, Ghana is doing remarkably well.
According to Mr.. Akufo-Addo as at Friday, 16th October, the number of active cases has declined further to three hundred and ninety-eight (398), with forty-six thousand, six hundred and sixty-four (46,664) persons fully recovered from the virus, putting our recovery rate at 98.5%.
Unfortunately, the nation has experienced thirteen (13) more deaths, bringing the total number of deaths, tragically, to three hundred and ten (310), out of a total number of five hundred and ten thousand, and seventy-four (510,074) persons tested. The rate of death, 0.5%, continues to remain very low.
"When you take a close look at the measures some other countries are having to take, including imposing night-time curfews and partial lockdowns, declaring state of emergencies, limiting the numbers of people permitted at public gatherings, and mandatorily fining persons for not wearing masks, all in the bid to contain the second wave of the virus, we, in Ghana, have been spared all these developments and restrictions. We must, thus, be doing something right," he remarked.
So what's behind this success?
Mr. Akufo-Addo didn't hesitate to give credit to his government. "In fact, our favourable situation at the moment is thanks to the effectiveness of Government policies, the co-operation of you, the Ghanaian people, and, ultimately, to the grace of God."
He said science and data suggest that the trajectory of the virus in Ghana mirrors that of an epidemic with reduced disease activity.
"Our daily infection rates are no longer in the hundreds as they were sometime back. Presently, they are in the tens, averaging twenty-five (25) new cases per day, in the course of last week."
This is in sharp contrast with what is happening in the countries that are experiencing a second wave of infections, where, in some instances, new infections and hospitalizations are, sadly, in the thousands per day. In spite of our successes, I would like to reiterate that this virus remains something of a mystery, and we should always rather err on the side of caution, and continue to observe the protocols that have brought us to where we are.
As President of the Republic, I assured you of my continuing commitment to limiting and stopping the importation of the virus, containing its spread, providing adequate care for the sick, slowing down community spread, reducing the impact of the virus on social and economic life, and using the opportunity afforded by this pandemic to expand our domestic production capacity, and deepen our self-reliance. I remain committed to these objectives, and I will not stray from them."
It has been six (6) weeks since the reopening the nation's international airport, and a total of thirty thousand, five hundred and sixty-four (30,564) passengers have been tested, from which ninety-two (92) have tested positive.
All ninety-two (92) are asymptomatic cases, whose status, but for the test, would not have been detected, and would have spread the disease amongst the rest of the population. I am aware that some are calling for Government to extend the PCR negative test period before boarding the flight from three (3) days to at least five (5) days.
"I believe, in the context of the second wave of infections that is engulfing so many countries of Europe and America, that we have to insist on the three (3) day period. It is better to be safe than sorry."
Expansion of COVID-19 testing
Across the country, Government has seen to the expansion of COVID-19 testing facilities, from the initial (2) to sixteen (16), which include those of private sector providers.
Additionally, some hospitals across the country have been equipped with the capacity to test for COVID-19. We now have more dedicated treatment facilities for dealing with the disease and have also improved considerably the availability of PPEs for our health workers. It is reassuring that we no longer have news of shortages or lack of PPEs, the President said.
How was this executed?
Through a public-private partnership, and Ghana is the beneficiary of a one hundred (100) bed Infectious Diseases Centre, located at the Ga East Municipal Hospital. According to him, plans are also afoot to replicate the laudable project in Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale.
"In as much as we currently have no patients at the isolation centres, I express the gratitude of the nation, once again, to private and religious bodies, who provided their facilities to support the fight. These laudable efforts have manifested the collective will of the majority of Ghanaians to rally together, irrespective of ethnic, religious or partisan political considerations, to help win this fight.
"It is important for me to stress that the cost of providing for the care of most persons stricken with the virus is being borne by Government, ensuring that persons who tested positive, and were in need of healthcare, received it promptly."
Mr. Akufo-Addo also had something to say about education, nothing that the academic year for new and continuing University students will commence from January 2021. Football, the passion of the nation, will return in two-weeks; private burials, still, with a maximum of one hundred (100) persons, are being performed; and the limit on the numbers of persons who can attend conferences, workshops, and award events, has been lifted, subject to the strict adherence of Covid-19 protocols.
On the Economy
He said the economy was on a good path. According to the Bank of Ghana, the Ghanaian economy is recovering faster than initially anticipated. Consumer confidence is bouncing back strongly and is today above pre-lockdown levels. Not only that business confidence has also increased, reflecting the improving macroeconomic conditions, stability in the exchange rate, lower input prices, moderation in lending rates, and positive industry prospects. Consumer spending, industrial consumption of electricity, and construction activities have all reached pre-lockdown levels, whilst tourist arrivals and port harbour activity are gradually edging upwards.
"So, I urge all of you, my fellow Ghanaians, to continue to comply with the strict hygiene, mask-wearing and social distancing protocols that have become part of our daily routines. This is the surest way by which we can defeat the virus, and avoid a second wave of infections."
"The outlook on our battle against COVID-19 remains optimistic, for which we thank God and you, the Ghanaian people. It is important that we maintain this positive position, especially with a few weeks to the holding of the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections.
I have said before, let us continue to look out for one another, and remain each other’s keeper, and I am confident that, by doing so, we will emerge victorious in the fight against COVID-19. Zero active cases must be the goal, and I have no doubt that, together, and with the help of God, this too shall pass, for the Battle is still the Lord’s," he concluded.
By Gordon Offin-Amaniampong