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Mandatory wearing of nose masks extended to Dec 14

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a nose mask
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a nose mask

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has by an Executive Instrument extended the mandatory wearing of nose masks by another three months.

The Executive Instrument was issued on Monday, September 14, 2020.

The President, in his 17th update on Ghana’s Enhanced Response to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) said until December 14, 2020, the wearing of the nose masks remained mandatory.

He asked the law enforcement agencies to ensure that the directive was respected by all.

He indicated that the wearing of masks had proved effective in the fight against the COVID-19 and, therefore, urged each and every one to wear them.

Contact sports

The President also gave the green light for the resumption of contact sports, six months after it was suspended as a result of the ban on social gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said after consultations with the Ghana Football Association (GFA), it had been decided that the Ghana Premier League and the Division One League would restart on Friday, October 30, with a full regime of testing of the players, technical and management staff.

However, he said, spectators would not be allowed at the training centres, and when actual competition resumes, seating at all stadia would be limited to 25 per cent capacity to ensure social distancing, with the wearing of masks by spectators at stadia mandatory.

Case-by-case

In that context, he said, the restart of all other sporting competitions would be determined on a case-by-case basis, pending consultations between the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the respective sports associations. 

Already, he said, some national teams had been given the dispensation to begin training ahead of their international engagements, saying: “All sports people who are camped are to be tested regularly.”

Private burials/borders

President Akufo-Addo said private burials, with a maximum of 100 people, could still be performed.

On the closure of the country’s borders, he said land and sea borders would remain closed to human traffic until further notice.

“Beaches, pubs, cinemas and nightclubs remain closed until further notice. All other institutions that have been cleared to function are to continue to do so in strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols,” he added.

Optimism

The President noted that the country had come a long way and made significant progress in combating the disease.

“The angst, fear and panic exhibited by many, especially when the first two cases were recorded on our shores, have been replaced, in recent weeks,” he said.

He noted that there was a growing sense of optimism and renewed hope that Ghana was on the way to winning the battle against the pandemic and attributed the improvement in the situation to the effective measures put in place by the government, with the cooperation and support of Ghanaians and, most certainly, by the Grace of the Almighty God.

Wearing of masks

Making reference to an Executive Instrument issued on Monday, September 14, 2020, in which he extended the mandatory wearing of nose masks by another three months, the President said until December 14, 2020, the wearing of masks remained mandatory.

He asked the law enforcement agencies to ensure that the directive was respected by all.

He indicated that the wearing of masks had proved effective in the fight against the COVID-19 and, therefore, urged each and every one to wear them.

Case count

The President recounted that at the time of his 16th address three weeks ago, the number of recorded active cases; that is, persons with the virus, stood at 1,847.

“This number, as of Friday, September 18, 2020, had reduced considerably to 507 people. There are, currently, some regions in the country without active cases. The Greater Accra, Eastern, Ashanti and Central regions account for some 80 per cent of the active cases,” he said.

He said the number of tests conducted was 470,730, and that 45,258 people had recovered from the disease.

Sadly, 297 people, a great majority of them with underlying illnesses, such as hypertension, diabetes, chronic liver disease and asthma, had died, President Akufo-Addo said.

He recounted how Ghana’s death rate continued to be low and the hospitals not being overwhelmed, as there were, presently, only 20 severe and critical cases.

“Indeed, there are a lot of empty beds in our treatment centres, and the isolation centres have virtually no patients under care,” he said.

Total opening?

On why he was not lifting all the restrictions and returning the country to normalcy in the light of those positive gains, the President said it was deliberate, in order not to derail the enormous gains recorded so far.

“But truth be told: we cannot afford, at this critical moment, to throw caution to the wind and destroy the incredible amount of work undertaken by the government, health officials, heroic frontline health workers and members of the security agencies in bringing us this far.

“Now, more than ever, we must be even more disciplined in our adherence to the personal hygiene, mask wearing and social distancing measures that have become part of our daily routines. That is the way to eliminate the virus altogether,” President Akufo-Addo said.

He reminded the public that the experience in other parts of the world showed that the virus could return with a vengeance, “once you let your guard down”.

President Akufo-Addo said the virus was no respector of persons, even as the country worked to attain zero active cases.

Airlines bounce back

President Akufo-Addo announced that since the opening of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on September 1, this year, 16 out of the 23 airlines that operated to the airport prior to its closure had resumed commercial flights to and from Accra.

As of last Saturday, he said, 10,061 passengers had been tested at the KIA.

Ironic

He, however, expressed concern over the fact that in spite of the requirement that all passengers must be in possession of a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result conducted within 72 hours before the scheduled departure from the country of origin, Ghana recorded 26 positive cases from tests at the KIA.

“Let us pause for a moment and imagine: what would have happened if these 26 positives had not been detected and had been allowed to mingle with the population?” President Akufo-Addo asked rhetorically.

He said although the $150 per passenger fee for the mandatory airport COVID-19 test had been criticised in certain quarters, the value of the test in its speed, accuracy and savings for passengers, who no longer had to bear the cost of the 14-day mandatory quarantine in hotels, had been clearly established.

“It is worth noting that a lot of people who have experienced at first-hand the service being offered at our international airport have praised the country for the innovation and far-sightedness on display at our airport,” he said.

He gave an assurance that he would do everything in his power to protect the citizenry and stop the importation of the virus into the country, or limit and contain its spread, saying: “This is my solemn commitment to you.”