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Why government yet to impose another COVID-19 lockdown

BY: Jasmine Arku & Judith Lamiokor Lamptey

The Minister of Information designate, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has explained that the government's decision to impose another COVID-19 lockdown will not be based solely on the increasing number of cases.

Rather, he says factors such as the public's adherence to the COVID-19 safety protocols would influence a lockdown decision.

Responding to questions at a press briefing on government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana on Monday [January 25, 2021], Mr Oppong Nkrumah said although there have been calls for another lockdown as was done in 2020, the decision taken at the time was a "precautionary one" that gave government the opportunity to study the dynamics of the Coronavirus and plan on how to respond to it.

Related: New surge of COVID-19 cases: GMA calls for restrictions on public gathering

According to him, “it had nothing to do with the number of cases at the time.”

“Because if it was about the number of cases then of course there will be a strong argument to make that when the cases go up then we have to lock down some more.

“That's how come we knew our baseline positivity rate at the time. That’s how come we understood the percentages of people who were falling sick and therefore decide on isolation centres, profiling of people etc.,” he explained.

According to Mr Oppong Nkrumah, government would nonetheless impose a lockdown or some restrictions in the country if the rising trend of the Coronavirus disease continued.

“So, it's not about the numbers specifically. But yes, numbers do play a part at a point in time and that's why we are saying that if you look at the numbers as at today and if you look at the characteristics of this third rise, and the fact that still a lot of people are not doing what they have to do to help us bring it down, we are heading for some more restrictions if this trend continues,” he said.

He therefore admonished the public to observe the COVID-19 protocols strictly to ensure that the spread of the virus was curbed.

"We are being reminded that we all need to do the things that we were doing to ensure that this third rise, we can quickly curb it. Because the dynamics of this third rise appears to be a little bit different from the first two that we had, including the number of people who are falling sick, severe and critical... If this number keeps going up... if it keeps rising... if it keeps going the way it is going, as the President himself has articulated, we are heading for more restrictions and if it means reviewing some of the legal instruments, yes, that is where we will be heading”, he added.

Vaccines

Mr Oppong-Nkrumah also dismissed reports suggesting that the COVID-19 vaccine, when approved and acquired by government, would be administered first to a certain category of the public.

He indicated that the President would announce to the public when the vaccine has been approved by the presidential task force.

“The sub-committee of the Covid-19 Response task force that has been working on the vaccine policy has done a lot of work from last week and has some proposals which will now hopefully be signed off at the presidential Task force level. I have seen [media] reports that suggest that the policy is already being approved and there are the people who are going to take it first."

“I would like to inform you that that is not the case. Those are proposals from the sub-committee and then it will go to the task force for final decisions and possible modification etc.  Once that is done, the President himself will announce or will call to be announced what the final policy is and who is to get first and who is getting it next so please stand by for now”, he clarified.