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11.03.2020 Feature Article

COVID-19 Outbreak: A Misplaced Praise For Ghana?

COVID-19  Outbreak: A Misplaced  Praise  For Ghana?
LISTEN MAR 11, 2020

An epidemiology specialist Dr. Bertha Serwa Ayi has praised Ghana for taking proactive steps to prevent Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic from entering the country thus far.

In a brief WhatsApp post, the renowned US-based epidemiologist lauded the leadership in Ghana for demonstrating a mark of what she phrased 'courage in action'.

"A proud moment for Ghana. Hats off to the leadership for showing courage in action," she wrote.

Her praise followed a directive by President Akufo-Addo temporarily suspending foreign travels for public officials. The statement, however, didn't give a hint as to how long the suspension will last.

Is this praise misplaced or too early?
Misplaced, not at all. Too early, may be.
Nonetheless, I tend to agree with the medical doctor and others who have stacked praises on the leadership.I'm personally satisfied with what experts and the leadership have put in place so far.

And I take my hat off to the President, health officials and all stakeholders who are working around the clock to keep the wild beast away from reaching the country.

Earlier this week a British national who accessed Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport (KIA) expressed similar sentiment.

What do they say?
If you want to get ahead get a hat.
And I think the measures being carried out by the Ghanaian leadership could aptly be described as a step in the right direction. In other words, they've got the hat, albeit it's too early. But, I'm hopeful they'll be relentless in their resolve to ward off the monster.

On Tuesday 10 March 2020, the Chief of Staff at the presidency Hon. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, issued a directive which was 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 explained that only essential and critical foreign travels will be considered and, thereafter, approved.

“The directive, together with other measures being put in place by Government, is intended to protect the general public from contracting the virus. Please take note and ensure compliance,” the statement added.

Independence Day
At the 63rd Independence Day Celebration, in Kumasi, on 6th March, 2020, President Akufo-Addo admonished Ghanaians to stop shaking hands completely, and cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus disease.

"The disease is medical crisis that is bringing in its wake deaths and economic difficulties, and is spreading fear and panic throughout the world," President Akufo-Addo said.

Mr. Akufo-Addo revealed that in the early days of the outbreak, he constituted, on 7th February, 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, adding 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 pointed out.

In addition, the President told the gathering that more protective health equipment is being procured, together with the ongoing training of health workers in the treatment of the disease

“In the interim, non-essential travel into Ghana is being strongly discouraged from high-risk countries, namely, China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea. We are counting on the experts to do their part to safeguard us, but we all have a responsibility to take measures to help ourselves and each other,” he said.

He also gave Ghanaians this advice:“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.”

People tend to hoodwinked when there's crisis.
To this vein the President called on Ghanaians to be wary of fraudulent claims for cures of the virus. Rather they should pay attention to health experts, praying that “the Almighty God continues to shield us."

“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 all to join in helping to keep Ghana safe,' the President bemoaned.

Mr. Akufo-Addo was grateful to the global health authority, the World Health Organisation (WHO), for its dynamic role and assured Ghanaians that:“Government, on its part, is determined to do whatever is necessary, including providing the requisite resources, to ensure the safety of the population."

By Gordon Offin-Amaniampong

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