President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the country have called for reintroducing some restrictions to curtail the surge.
As a result, all events associated with funerals must be held in open-air spaces, while strict observance of the one-metre social distancing rule must be adhered to.
Also, all funerals should not go beyond the two-hour time duration; post-funeral receptions are banned, handshakes must be avoided, and one-week funeral celebrations are restricted solely to family members who must not exceed two hours.
Again, wearing masks is mandatory, and workplaces currently witnessing a resurgence in COVID-19 infections are admonished to observe staff management and workplace protocols, such as the use of a shift system and technology, with the view to achieving social distancing and hygiene protocols.
In his address to the nation on measures to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 on Sunday, President Akufo-Addo warned of a possible lockdown if COVID-19 cases surge.
He said with the caseload still rising, it meant that Ghanaians had let their guards down and are leaving their lives and conduct their businesses as though they were in regular times.
In a vaccine-laggard country such as Ghana, with the coronavirus’s Delta variant spreading fast, the government and epidemiologists in the country are worried as it raises concerns about the country medical infrastructure.
According to the World Health Organisation, the Delta Variant has increased transmissibility rates, and in the case of Ghana, had led, in recent weeks, a rise in hospitalisation and ICU bed uptakes, and, tragically, deaths.
President Akufo-Addo said with the caseload rising, medical facilities are hard-pressed to ensure adequate treatment.
He said in his last covid-19 update some ten weeks ago, the total active case count stood at 1,314 with a daily infection rate of 100 and a total of 783 deaths.
As of Wednesday, 21st July 2021, ten weeks later, the Ghana Health Services reports that the total number of active cases stands at 4,094 with a daily infection rate of 450. Sadly, 36 more people have died, bringing the cumulative number of deaths to 819.
President Akufo-Addo expressed worry over the caseload rise as “this entire development is very alarming, especially as we are being told by officials of the Ghana Health Service, that the recovery rate is on the decline.”
He said it was highly troubling that the high compliance rate with mask-wearing had fallen alarmingly, even though the wearing of masks in public places continue to be mandatory.
The President said there are no exceptions to this rule, and strict conformity with the protocols will be enforced.
“Anyone found to be flouting this directive will have him or herself to blame. We cannot afford to allow the recklessness of a few to endanger the lives of the majority of persons in the country,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo announced a US$25 million seed funding for the establishment of a National Vaccine Institute, which will spearhead the creation of a vaccine manufacturing hub in Ghana.
President Akufo-Addo indicated that the Committee, established under Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng’s leadership to investigate the country’s potential as a vaccine manufacturing hub to meet national and regional needs, has presented its preliminary report.
Among the Committee’s recommendations is the establishment of a National Vaccine Institute to spearhead this development.
The Institute, the President said, would be charged with delivering six clear mandates—establish local vaccine manufacturing plants; deepen Research and Development (R&D) for vaccines in Ghana; upgrade and strengthen the FDA, and forge bilateral and multilateral partnerships for vaccine manufacturing in various areas, and funding.
It will also be responsible for clinical trials, technology transfer and licensing, assignment of intellectual property rights, building the human resource base for vaccine discovery, development, and manufacture, and establishing a permanent national secretariat to coordinate vaccine development and manufacture.
“We must be self-sufficient in this regard in the future and prepare ourselves better to deal with any such occurrences,” the President stated.
He reassured the government’s commitment to vaccinating twenty million Ghanaians, comprising the entire adult population in the country by the end of this year (2021), despite the enormous global demand for vaccines by countries.
“We are expecting, through the COVAX facility, one million Pfizer vaccines from the United States of America, 229,670 Pfizer vaccines from the African Union, 249,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from the United Kingdom.”
He said the government is also procuring 17 million single doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines, through the African Medicine Supply Platform, in this quarter.
The President indicated that the government had upgraded the country’s national, regional and district cold chain facilities to widen access to vaccines like Pfizer and Modena, which require -70℃ cold chains.
These include 16 ultra-low cold freezers, 58 units of ultra-low freezers, 50 normal vaccine refrigerators, 300 boxes to be filled with ice packs, 300 ice packed freezers, ten cold chain vans 120 temperature monitoring devices.
President Akufo-Addo thanked, in particular, UPS, the American multi-national shipping, receiving and supply chain management company, for their generous donation towards this development.
He stressed that there was no need for any hesitation amongst Ghanaians who are yet to take their jab since all vaccines had been certified as safe-for-use by the country’s regulatory agency, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD