President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has suspended temporarily all foreign travels for all public officials, as part of measures being taken by government to prevent the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ghana.
A circular issued by the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, and 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, stressed 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 said.
Stop shaking hands
It will be recalled that, at the 63rd Independence Day Celebration, in Kumasi, on March 6, 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.
Describing the disease as a medical crisis that is bringing in its wake deaths and economic difficulties, and is spreading fear and panic throughout the world, President Akufo-Addo revealed that in the early days of the outbreak, he constituted, on February 7, 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 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.
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 the 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 all to join in helping to keep Ghana safe,” he said.
In appreciating the active collaboration being offered by the global health authority, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and by friends of Ghana, President Akufo-Addo assured that “Government, on its part, is determined to do whatever is necessary, including providing the requisite resources, to ensure the safety of the population.”