The Ministry of Communication, in collaboration with the Nation Communication Authority (NCA) and Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), has initiated a new contact centre to supports government’s fight against novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The contact centre, dubbed INFO311, is to provide among others general education on COVID-19; clarification on the imposition of restrictions in the Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi; receive complaints of happenings in neighborhoods during the lockdown; and also take requests from health facilities nationwide for the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other materials to help deal with suspected cases.
This was announced by the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, at a media briefing on the state of COVID-19 outbreaks across the country.
The minister said the centre, which is to be managed by the Information Ministry, will be playing a non-medical role; and therefore persons with medical complaints in connection with COVID-19 should call 112 for assistance. He warned that any person who puts across prank-calls to the emergency contact number will be blocked from accessing the line in future.
Gender Ministry on homeless
Also at the press briefing, the Minister of Gender and Social Protection, Cynthia Mamle Morrison, outlined a number of measures to cater for the homeless; including head porters popularly known as Kayaye, mentally unstable and Persons with Disabilities (PWD). Even though she shied away from telling the media how much is being spent on these people during the 14-day partial lockdown, she gave a breakdown of activities to ensure they live a comfortable life.
The minister disclosed that a place of abode has been identified for the about-1,500 homeless; and enough food, water, toiletries and sanitisers have been procured to cater for them during the partial lockdown.
She further mentioned that some corporate bodies are providing food and water to about 10,000 needy people in various communities.
“Two hot meals per day will be sent to various location in the Greater Accra and the Greater Kumasi area to help alleviate the plight of the vulnerable. We are yet to settle on breakfast, but we have some drinks and biscuits that we can use in the meantime.”
The ministry, she said, will take advantage of the situation to train the Kayayes in some skills and also educate them on the importance of personal hygiene and social distancing in these times. Also, some stipends will be given to them during the period; the minister said the specific allocation will be made known after all details are concluded with the Finance Ministry.
The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, said there will be enhanced testing for persons living in areas that are deemed epicentres. According to him, the disease surveillance team has mapped these areas, especially in Accra and Kumasi, and will be paying some visits to the communities and entreat them to take the test and know their status to help the nation’s plans for fighting the disease.
He said the exercise will not be compulsory but is a necessity to aid the national agenda; therefore, persons who are contacted should collaborate for the nation’s greater good.
The minister added that the testing exercise will also cover persons who travelled into the country within a certain period. He further entreated anyone who travelled into the country during the disease’s global outbreak to call the emergency 112 lines and get assistance on how to be tested.
Also, the mass testing will take two different forms; some contact-traced persons will be visited in their homes, while others will be asked to visit a facility close to them for their samples to be taken and tested. As of Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at about 10 am, the country had recorded 195 COVID-19 cases with 5 deaths.