COVID-19: Don’t Panic … curve will flatten

Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has urged Ghanaians not to panic even as positive tests for coronavirus continue to increase, because government is working with all stakeholders to ensure that the pandemic is brought under control.

“Don’t panic. With our collective survival at stake, government is taking all measures based on the facts to ensure that this pandemic is brought under control,” Mr. Oppong-Nkrumah said at a press briefing in Accra yesterday.

At the same press briefing, Health Minister Kwaku Agyemang Manu said Ghana’s cases have jumped to 52 with two deaths. “As of Monday night [March 23, 2020], a total of 27 cases had been recorded with two deaths. The additional 25 cases are from those who were in quarantine and have tested positive,” he said.

In a breakdown, 1,030 persons who recently returned to Ghana have been quarantined with 611 samples taken for testing and 185 samples processed. It is out of these samples that 25 tested positive, bringing the total number of positive cases to 52 in Ghana with two deaths.

The Health Minister noted that Accra, Tema and Kumasi are now epicentres of the virus, but government has deployed field officers across the country to undertake more contact-tracing. “98 field officers have been deployed in Accra, and we are succeeding in getting to people with 50 trained people doing contact-tracing in Kumasi as well,” he said.

Mr. Oppong-Nkrumah therefore urged those in mandatory quarantine to comply with directives given by health and government officials to prevent further spread of the virus.

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An official from the National Security Secretariat added that for those in enforced quarantine, they will be reasonably taken care of. He added that psychologists have been deployed to engage them.

Laud Kwasi Ofori-Afrifa, Deputy Comptroller General, Ghana Immigration Service, added that the land, sea and air borders of the country are being policed very well, with arrests of people trying to enter or leave.

“21 persons were arrested when they were trying to enter Ghana illegally via the Elubo border. Our Northern borders are totally shut and Burkinabes trying to cross have been stopped,” he said, noting that these are not normal times and border communities should help slow or stop the virus’ spread by reporting illegal crossings, not aiding them.

“We are not in normal times and the border communities forms a critical part of our country, and so you must inform on illegal entries rather than aiding illegal crossings. When the virus hits, it will get to you too,” he pointed out.

The Bank of Ghana has also taken drastic measures to keep businesses supported by banks. The regulator has relaxed some of its criteria for the banking sector which allows the infusion of extra funds into the economy.

Even as it does that the Central Bank has also issued a new directive that stops banks from using the extra cash for purchasing government of Ghana and Bank of Ghana bonds, and distributing the extra cash as dividends to shareholders. To the regulator, the relaxation of rules must benefit critical sectors of the economy.

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The private sector has not been left out when it comes to supporting the fight against the virus. Several companies and associations have moved swiftly to make presentations to health institutions, government and other institutions at the forefront of the fight.

The Ghana Association of Bankers has donated some GH¢10million to support the nation’s measures in fighting the virus. Members of the association are also collaborating and have aligned their various Business Continuity Plans to ensure critical banking services are readily available to customers.

A group of Ghanaian professionals in Ghana and the diaspora have also come together and launched a campaign to combat the growing coronavirus pandemic. Under the tag ‘Stop Coronavirus Ghana Campaign’, it seeks to bring on board their expertise, skill-sets and financial as well as in-kind resources in support of government’s fight against spread of the COVID–19 pandemic in Ghana.

As a purely private sector-led coalition, its objectives include promoting education on coronavirus prevention and management to reduce spread, fear and panic among the general public in Ghana; and creating a platform for the private sector to actively get involved in working with government to find innovative and sustainable solutions for fighting the spread of COVID–19 in Ghana.

Others are the establishment of a Stop Coronavirus Ghana Fund to provide funding for private and public sector activities and projects toward fighting the coronavirus in Ghana; and supporting needy private and public healthcare institutions with health commodities, resources to manage and prevent the spread of coronavirus cases.

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