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Full Text Of Akufo-Addo’s Tenth (10th) National Address On Ghana’s Anti-Coronavirus Efforts

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Fellow Ghanaians, good evening.
I have come again, for the tenth (10th) time, into your homes to speak to
you about the Coronavirus pandemic, share with you information about the
fight against the virus, and outline to you the decisions I have taken about
the next chapter of our common battle.
I thank each and every one of you for the collective and individual effort you
have put in to help contain the spread of the disease on our shores. The
great majority of us continue to adhere to the social distancing and enhanced
hygiene protocols; we have, as a result, altered our way of life to
accommodate these changes; and we continue to make sacrifices to speed
up the process of bringing our lives safely back to a state of normalcy. We
have demonstrated not only to ourselves, but also to the entire world, that
we are capable of charting our own path towards containing the spread of
this disease. We must all be proud that we have become a reference point
for others on how to combat it.
In all of this, I say a special ayekoo to our heroic healthcare workers, our
efficient teams of contact tracers and testers, our farsighted scientists, our
professional security personnel, and responsible members of our media, who
have done a yeoman’s job over the last eleven (11) weeks in the fight. Your
efforts are truly appreciated, and the Ghanaian people will always be in your
debt.
When the first two cases were confirmed on 12th March, 2020, we took timely
measures to attack the virus. We decided that we would, (i) limit and stop
the importation of the virus, (ii) contain its spread, (iii) provide adequate
care for the sick, (iv) limit the impact of the virus on social and economic
life, and (v) use the opportunity afforded by the emergency to expand our
domestic capability and deepen our self-reliance.
To attain these objectives, and respond to the clear evidence that large
gatherings provide the most fertile grounds for the spread of the virus, on
15th March, three (3) days later, under the Imposition of Restrictions Act,
2020, Act 1012, I placed a ban on public gatherings and closed down all
schools and universities. On 21st March, I closed all our borders by land, air
and sea. Subsequently, on 27th March, I placed restrictions on movement of
persons in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area, Tema, Kasoa, and the
Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area and contiguous districts, for a period of
three (3) weeks.
In view of the obvious economic difficulties that the tough measures
brought, I also announced far-reaching reliefs to ease the economic and
social burden on households and businesses. These included subsidies on
utilities for all, tax reliefs and financial packages for businesses, and
incentives for our frontline health workers.
Fellow Ghanaians, as at today, Sunday, 31st May, under these measures, we
have conducted two hundred and eighteen thousand, four hundred and
twenty-five (218,425) tests; the number of positive cases stands at eight
thousand and seventy (8,070); two thousand, nine hundred and forty-seven
(2,947) persons have recovered; thirty-six (36) have sadly died; thirteen (13)
persons are severely ill, with three (3) critically-ill for which (1) is on a
ventilator; and five thousand and eighty-seven are responding to treatment
at home, isolation centres and hospitals.
Our hospitalisation and death rates have been, persistently, very low, some
of the lowest in Africa and in the world. The Ghanaian people are not dying
of the virus in the hundreds and thousands that were earlier anticipated, and
that are being seen on a daily basis in some other countries. Indeed, we are
witnessing a much milder manifestation of the virus in the country, than was
initially feared. And, I dare say, that it is the grace of God, and the measures
taken by Government that have produced this result.
Our ability to trace, test, and treat persons with the virus has improved
considerably; we now have a large army of efficient contact tracers; we have
expanded the number of testing facilities from two (2) to ten (10) across the
country; and we have increased appreciably the number of quarantine,
isolation and treatment centres. We have lessened our dependence on foreign imports, and scaled up significantly domestic production and
distribution of personal protective equipment to our healthcare workers,
evidenced in the provision of four million, four hundred and forty thousand,
six hundred and ninety (4,440,690) gloves; three million, five hundred and
twenty four thousand, two hundred and five (3,524,205) nose masks; sixty
two thousand, one hundred and ninety-four (62,194) goggles; one hundred
and nine thousand, eight hundred and twenty-nine (109,829) litres of
sanitizers; eighty five thousand, nine hundred and ninety-five (85,995) head
covers; eighty two thousand, six hundred and fifty-five (82,655) gowns; fifty
three thousand, five hundred and seventeen (53,517) medical scrubs; and
forty three thousand, six hundred and thirty-three (43,633) N-95 face masks.
As I have already said, everything that has been achieved, so far, would not
have been possible without the strong co-operation of you, the Ghanaian
people. I know, at firsthand, the devasting impact the measures employed
to defeat the virus has had on our social, religious, cultural and economic
lives, as well as on our jobs, and the education of our children, and yet,
because of love of country, we have borne with them. I know, however, that
we cannot live with these restrictions forever, and that it is imperative we
find a safe way to return our lives to normality, as other nations across the
globe are trying to do.
This has informed the stakeholder consultations that have occured over the
last few weeks with entities in the health, labour, religious, chieftaincy,
educational, hospitality, transport, sports, tourism and creative arts sectors.
These consultations have hinged on an analysis of the data gathered and
the adoption of best practices and experiences of other countries that have
attempted to move on in the wake of the pandemic.
A consensus has emerged from these consultations that we should embark
on a strategic, controlled, progressive, safe easing of restrictions to get our
lives and economy back to normal. As I stated in my May Day address, a
month ago, I am now in a position to outline the roadmap for easing safely
the restrictions. Ours is going to be a phased approach, involving a selected
list of public gatherings, based on their risk profile, socio-economic impact,
and, most importantly, our capacity to enforce and to respond, in the event
of a flair up in our number of infections.
So, fellow Ghanaians, with effect from Friday, 5th June, we will begin Stage
One of the process of easing restrictions.
An abridged format for religious services can commence. Twenty-five
percent (25%) attendance, with a maximum number of one hundred (100)
congregants, can worship at a time in church or at the mosque, with a
mandatory one metre rule of social distancing between congregants. In
addition to the mandatory wearing of masks for all persons at all times in
churches and mosques, a register of names and contact details of all
worshippers and hand washing facilities and sanitisers must be provided,
with a maximum duration of one (1) hour for each service.
Religious institutions that are desirous of opening their premises to their
members, such as churches, mosques and others, must disinfect, fumigate
and put in place the requisite logistics needed to guarantee safe opening and
operation. They must work with the designated, regulatory bodies and
undertake test runs of the protocols I have outlined. I would appeal to them,
in the case of Christians, on the first Sunday of re-opening, i.e. 7th June, in
the case of the Adventists, Saturday, 6th June, and in the case of Muslims,
on the first Friday, i.e. Ṣalāt al-Jumuʿah on 5th June, to dedicate their
worship to prayers for the nation in these challenging times. The Minister for
Religious Affairs, will, tomorrow, Monday, 1st June, outline, in detail, the
specific guidelines for the safe reopening of our churches and mosques.
From Monday, 15th June, 2020, the decision has been taken, after
engagement with the Teacher Unions, whose co-operation I salute, to re-
open schools and universities to allow for final year junior high, senior high
and university students to resume classes ahead of the conduct of their
respective exit examinations. Indeed, final year university students are to
report to their universities on 15th June; final year senior high school (SHS
3) students, together with SHS 2 Gold Track students, on 22nd June; and
final year junior high school (JHS 3) students on 29th June. JHS 3 classes will
comprise a maximum of thirty (30) students; SHS classes a maximum of
twenty-five (25) students; and University lectures will take place with half
the class sizes.
All final year students of educational and training institutions, which are
being managed by Ministries other than the Education Ministry, are to return
to school on 15th June to complete their exit examinations.
Again, prior to the opening of schools and universities, the Ministry of
Education, and the heads of public and private educational institutions, will
fumigate and disinfect their institutions. Each student, teacher, and non-
teaching staff will be provided with re-usable face masks by the Ministry of
Education. For the avoidance of doubt, all other educational facilities, private
and public, for non-final year students, will remain closed. The Minister for
Education, in the coming days, will outline, in detail, the specific guidelines
for the safe reopening of our schools and universities.
Private burials, now with a maximum of one hundred (100) persons, can
continue to be performed. Restaurants, providing seated services, can
operate under appropriate social distancing arrangements and hygiene
protocols. Individual, non-contact sports can go ahead. Conferences,
workshops, weddings, and political activities, except rallies, can now take
place, but with limited numbers not exceeding one hundred (100) persons
present, with the appropriate social distancing and hygiene protocols.
Market places, work places, public transport, and constitutional and statutory
bodies such as the Electoral Commission, the National Commission for Civic
Education and the National Identification Authority, whose activities were
exempted from the outset from these restrictions, must conduct their
activities in accordance with social distancing and the necessary hygiene and
safety protocols.
Whilst we step up public education of the protocols on public gatherings, let
me also state that regulatory agencies will undertake random checks to
ensure conformity with these rules, and the security services will be tasked
to enforce them. Should any institution fail to adhere to these directives, its
activity will be immediately prohibited, and relevant sanctions applied.
I have, by Executive Instrument, provided for these new directions, and
extended the suspension of the remaining public gatherings, as set out in
E.I. 64 of 15th March, until 31st July. In here, I refer to the suspension of
sporting events, nightclubs, cinemas, drinking spots, bars, beaches, festivals, funerals, political rallies, and large religious gatherings such as crusades,
pilgrimages and conventions.
Our border, by air, land and sea, remains closed until further notice for
human traffic. However, given that there are Ghana residents stranded
abroad, special dispensation is going to be given for their evacuation back
to Ghana, where they will be subjected to the mandatory quarantine and
safety protocols.
Fellow Ghanaians, it is said that with greater freedom comes greater
responsibility. The introduction of this phased opening up of our country
means that each and every one of us must continue to remain vigilant, and
respect the enhanced hygiene and social distancing protocols that have
become part and parcel of our daily routine over the last three (3) months.
We cannot afford to let our guard down, and ruin the successes we have
chalked over this period.
Yes, there exists the possibility of a potential surge in infections. As a
precautionary measure, we have strengthened further our existing national,
regional and district response teams, with the support of the security forces,
to step up to deal with any eventuality. Over recent weeks, we have learnt
from the cases at the fish processing plant in Tema, and in the Obuasi
municipality, how to deal with such sudden spikes. We will continue to learn,
review and adjust where and when we need to do so. We will only proceed
with this staggered opening up of our country when it is safe to do so.
Fellow Ghanaians, now, more than ever, we must adhere to enhanced
personal hygiene and social distancing protocols, wash our hands with soap
under running water, refrain from shaking hands, and wear our masks
whenever we leave our homes. In the Ghanaian context, it has been
established that the cases of comorbidity, i.e. underlying health conditions,
that are associated with almost all the COVID-related deaths, are mainly
diabetes and hypertension. The risk factors for these diseases are being
overweight, eating refined foods, too much salt and sugar in meals,
inadequate physical exercise, excessive alcohol intake, and smoking. It is,
thus, crucial that we improve our fitness levels, and adopt healthy eating
practices that incorporate our local food stuffs, which boost our immune systems. Persons with these diseases must take extra precautions, and take
their treatment seriously.
I am calling upon the Ministry of Information, the National Commission for
Civic Education and the media to intensify public education of these protocols
and directions. I entreat all religious, traditional, community and opinion
leaders to continue to partner with government in engaging, mobilising and
enforcing adherence to social distancing and personal hygiene practices in
their respective communities.
Fellow Ghanaians, as I stated in my fifth (5th) address to the nation, we will
protect people’s lives, then their livelihoods. It is this principle that guided
the decision to impose restrictions, and continues to guide me today. The
fact of the matter is that the measures we have taken appear, by the grace
of God, to be working, our healthcare system is, so far, not overwhelmed,
and, you, the Ghanaian people, have largely embraced the principles of
social distancing, the wearing of masks, and the enhanced hygiene
protocols, which are our most effective defences against the virus.
We have learnt many lessons from this pandemic. The most obvious is that
we have to fortify urgently our public health system. We have committed to
the implementation of ‘Agenda 88’, that is building, within a year, a fully-
equipped, functional district hospital for each district that does not have one,
and a fully-equipped, functional regional hospital for each of the new
regions, together with a new regional hospital for the Western Region, and
the rehabilitation of Effia Nkwanta Hospital in Sekondi. We have to empower
and increase the number of our healthcare professionals across board.
Universal Health Coverage must become reality for all Ghanaians, not a
slogan, for every Ghanaian deserves good health and good healthcare. We
need to focus our energies on ensuring access of poor people to decent
housing. We can no longer ignore this basic requirement of social justice.
We have to make the things we use, and grow the foods we eat. We have
to come out of this crisis better, stronger and more united than before.
Ghana, free, united, socially just, self-reliant and productive, that is the
Ghana we are going to create together after we have defeated this virus.
Fellow Ghanaians, ultimately, the Battle is the Lord’s, and, with faith in Him,
we will emerge from this greater than before. We are one people, we are Ghanaians, and we stand together in joy and in times of trouble. We are a
people with an exceptional history, and we are the proud promoters of the
Black Star of Africa. We have all gone down together, we should all rise
together. This too shall pass!!
May God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and
strong.
I thank you for your attention and have a good night.

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