President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said Ghanaians can now breathe a collective sigh of relief as Covid-19 is no longer a public health emergency of international concern.
Some three weeks ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that COVID-19 was no longer a public health emergency of global concern.
According to WHO, there is evidence of reducing risks to human health from COVID-19 infections, which has led to the decreasing trend of COVID-19 related deaths, hospitalisations and intensive care admissions.
The world has also achieved the long hoped-for immunity, and with improved clinical management, the experts say it is time to transition to long-term management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Akufo-Addo, who described the announcement as “good news” said it had taken three years, five months and twenty days of unbelievable tumult, unrelenting pain and suffering and emotional turbulence of a world turned upside down, for the devastating pandemic to finally to be beaten down.
In a televised address on measures taken against the spread of Covid-19 and update on IMF Programme on Sunday, President Akufo-Addo said even though the country’s health system may still have to deal with sporadic, isolated outbreaks, the crisis itself has technically ended.
As at 15th May, 2023, there had been 1,462 deaths attributable to Covid-19 in Ghana, with the last death being recorded on 8th January, 2023.
“These are not mere figures, or inconvenient statistics, the President stated, but that they are “dearly loved parents, sons and daughters, relations, friends and colleagues whom we shall continue to miss dearly.”
“I am glad to report that, currently, we do not have any critical or severe cases,” he said.
The pandemic trend in Ghana, according to the President similar to the general global trend as announced by WHO.
In general, since the first case was confirmed in Ghana on March 12, 2020, there had been 171,758 positive cases from 2,538,198 tests and, as at 25th May 2023, 25,170,382 vaccine doses had been administered since the start of vaccination campaign in March 2021.
There are currently 10,536,420 fully vaccinated people, that is, 52.7% out of the 20 million people target the government had set, with 4,599,883 persons having received booster doses.
In the light of these facts, President Akufo-Addo said the COVID-19 Taskforce, which he chairs, had met on 17th May and took some far-reaching decisions on the measures in the management of the pandemic, which include the announced that the pandemic was technically over in Ghana.
He urged Ghanaians to continue with the regular hand washing and other personal hygiene measures, so they become entrenched national habits.
There has been a dramatic decrease in diarrhoea diseases, the President stated adding: “we have not had any cholera outbreaks these past three years – these developments are attributable mostly to the hand washing and improved hygiene regimen in our communities.
“It does not hurt to wear a mask if you have a cold for example, it might protect those around you. If you are uncomfortable in a crowded and enclosed space, go out into the open and continue the new ways we have devised for outside entertainment.”
According to President Akufo-Addo, there are other ways in which this “nightmare has brought some good dividends that must be acknowledged.”
He said it had led to the strengthening of Ghana’s disease surveillance system, which has been manifested in recent months by the country’s ability to deal, in a very rapid and aggressive way, with outbreaks of frightening diseases like Marburg, Lassa fever, Monkey Pox, which could turn into serious public health catastrophes before.
The pandemic, the President indicated, had also exposed some of the painful deficiencies of the country, “and forced us to take some brave and necessary decisions, like the expansion of our network of health facilities under Agenda 111.”
“I doubt very much that, but for the pandemic, the network of health laboratories with capacity to do PCR testing in our country would have expanded exponentially from the initial 2 to 67 laboratories nationwide.”
The President firstly, thanked his Ghanaians, for their patience, understanding and cooperation; as well as health workers and the scientific community for their unflinching dedication to work.
He also thanked leaders of the faith-based groups, the Christian Council, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Ghana Charismatic and Pentecostal Council, the Chief Imam and the Moslem leaders, for their strong involvement, prayers and support, especially in feeding the vulnerable during the lockdown periods, and, the Church of Pentecost, in providing accommodation for an isolation and treatment centre.
The President expressed gratitude to the Council of State and traditional leaders, the National and Regional Houses of Chiefs, for their support and help in community sensitization.
“I thank the political and business leaders; development partnerships, NGOs, civil society; the sports, hospitality, entertainment, creative and tourism industries; our security services – police, military, immigration; teachers, pupils, students, parents, and guardians; I thank the journalists and the entire media.”
President Akufo-Addo also paid homage to the Ministry of Health, the Christian Health Association of Ghana, the Military and Police Health Services, quasi-government, private health care providers and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
Also did he express eternal gratitude to the Police, the Immigration and the Military, and the two IGPs, two CDSs and Comptroller-General that have served during the period.
The pharmaceutical and textile industries, and to the many corporate bodies that made generous donations, Ghana Airport Company, Education Service, the Ghana Health Service, we’re not left out in the President’s praises and commendation.
“And to the many who advised me publicly and privately, supported and prayed for me, I say thank you, the President stated.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD.