18 Jan Alarming UK COVID variant enters Ghana
By Enoch Adjei
President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has expressed deep concerns about the rising active cases of the Corona virus pandemic in the country lately as the country records the new variant of the virus.
Delivering his 22nd Covid-189 update on Sunday January 17, he said “ I am coming into your homes tonight with some rather unpleasant news. When I delivered Update No. 21, some two weeks ago, I urged all of us to continue adhering to the enhanced hygiene and mask-wearing protocols that have served us well, and which led us to the situation where we were witnessing a gradual decline in the number of active cases.
“However, since that time, we have seen an upsurge in the number of active cases, from a little over nine hundred (900) to one thousand, nine hundred and twenty-four (1,924). Our COVID-19 treatment centres have gone from having zero patients to now being full because of the upsurge in infections.
“Particularly worrying is the fact that the Ghana Health Service is recording, on the average, two hundred (200) new cases of COVID infections daily. The number of patients requiring hospitalization and intensive care is rising. The number of severe cases, which stood at eighteen (18) a week ago, has increased sharply to one hundred and twenty (120). Two weeks ago, there was no critical case, we now have thirty-three (33) in our treatment facilities. Again, according to statistics from the Ghana Health Service, the considerable number of persons who are severely ill are, surprisingly, relatively youthful persons, with no previous underlying health conditions. The number of confirmed deaths has increased, sadly, from three hundred and thirty-eight (338) persons to three hundred and fifty-two (352) within the period.
“Recent genomic sequencing undertaken by our scientists have established that some arriving passengers tested positive for new variants of COVID-19. These passengers have all been isolated. Furthermore, work is ongoing to determine the presence and extent of spread of the new variants in the general population.
“Detailed investigations of the cases indicate that, apart from arriving passengers at our airport who tested positive, infected persons have recent histories of attending parties, weddings, end of year office programmes, family get-togethers, and funerals. At these gatherings, most of them abandoned the use of the masks, and were engaged in actions that led to them contracting the virus.
“Fellow Ghanaians, at this current rate, whereby thirteen (13) out of the sixteen (16) regions have recorded active cases, our healthcare infrastructure will be overwhelmed. If this situation continues, it will severely undermine the efforts Government is making to revitalize the economy, and put our nation back onto the path of progress and prosperity, following the ravages of the pandemic.
“On 7th January, as I said, I swore to “dedicate myself to the service and well-being of the people of the Republic of Ghana, and to do right to all manner of persons.” It is my duty to protect lives and livelihoods.
“In furtherance of this, I have instructed the Inspector General of Police to direct officers, men and women of the Police Service to ensure the rigorous enforcement of the law on mask wearing at all public places and in public transport. They are also to ensure the closure of all night clubs, pubs, cinemas and beaches that may be operating in defiance of the law. They will be assisted by the other security agencies, if need be.
“Persons in market places, work places, and operators of public transport must conduct their activities in accordance with the hygiene and safety protocols. The wearing of masks in these places is mandatory. Regulatory agencies will undertake random checks to ensure conformity with COVID-19 rules. Should any facility or institution fail to comply with these directives, its activities will be immediately prohibited, and appropriate sanctions applied.
“It is important that I remind all Ghanaians that severe punishments exist on our statute books for persons breaking the law on the mandatory wearing of masks. Should anyone be arrested by the security agencies disregarding this directive, that person will be dealt with strictly in accordance with law.
“We do not want to go back to the days of partial lockdowns, which had a negative impact on our economy and on our way of life. But should that become necessary, that is ,should the number of active cases continue to increase at the current rate, I will have no option but to re-impose these restrictions because it is better to be safe than to be sorry. So, together, let us all ensure that we respect the protocols.