Ghana is West Africa’s most impacted nation behind Nigeria, at a point in May 2020, Ghana led the regional case load. June has started with progressive lifting of more virus restrictions.
President Akufo-Addo in his tenth address announced that whiles borders remained closed, some categories of academic institutions are allowed to resume, religious places can also reopen with strict conditions and the observance of health protocols.
Social gatherings -weddings, funerals etc. – are to be allowed under certain conditions – among others with maximum 100 participants. As the 2020 polls loom, even political activity is allowed to be undertaken.
This article will be focused on tracking case increases and major developments from the West African country. It will build on our April – May 2020 updates page.
June 13: 11,118 cases, NDC advocates mass testing
Ghana’s case load as of this morning stood at 11,118 cases with the disclosure of 262 new cases. According to the Ghana Health Service (GHS), 58 more persons have recovered as the new figure in that regards increases to 3,979.
The death toll still stands at 48 whiles active cases pass the 7,000 mark reaching 7,091. The Greater Accra region accounts for 6,888 cases with the Ashanti and Western regions completing the top three slots with 1,989 and 909 cases respectively.
Multiple local media sources reported late Saturday that Health Minister Kwaku-Agyemang Manu has been infected with the virus and was currently hospitalized.
He becomes the highest profile member of government to be infected. Weeks back a top legislator alleged that infections had hit parliament but his claims were disputed by the lawmaking chamber.
Main opposition NDC’s COVID-19 technical team is advocating for mass testing as the easing of restrictions means tertiary institutions are set to open.
The team said current trends “do not suggest that students, teaching and non- teaching staff can avoid significant risk of exposure to the virus as the epidemic is not under control.” Government is on record to have insisted that mass testing was not an immediate option but that it will be considered on an as and when basis.
Citing May 2020 tallies which pointed to widespread community transmission, the NDC suggested that all students, teaching and non-teaching staff be tested “to preempt any potential spread on secondary schools and university campuses.”
Their call is in line with that of major stakeholders like the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) which proposed mass coronavirus testing of students, teaching and non-teaching staff of Senior High Schools (SHSs) before they are reopened.
June 10: Cases pass 10,000 mark as rapid test kit makers advance
Ghana reached 10,000 mark in terms of confirmed cases on Tuesday (June 9); the case load reached 10,201 with deaths still at 48, 3,755 recoveries and 6,398 active cases.
Ghana joins an exclusive club that includes South Africa (52,991 cases), Egypt (35,444 cases), Nigeria (13,464 cases) and Algeria with 10,382 cases.
The Food and Drugs Authority has confirmed that nine companies were so far seeking approval for rapid test kits for COVID-19 a process that could last between a month and two months.
One of the companies, Kumasi-based Incas Diagnostics, are diversifying from their pregnancy test kit production to focus on COVID-19 test kits which will be an antibody test kit. The company is also working with other developers across Africa on a mobile app to help trace potentially high-risk virus patients.
Incas Diagnostics founder and CEO Laud Anthony Basing told Reuters he expected its kits to cost about half as much as imported tests as they will be cutting out middlemen by producing them in Ghana.
“The app will basically work well with the rapid test kit because once classified as high risk you need to test the person,” he said, stressing the need for mass testing given that Ghana had entered community transmission stage of virus spread.
The Reuters report added that Incas’ kits, which were developed with funding from the French development agency and the Mastercard foundation, could retail for about $5 but will mostly be donated to help fight the pandemic.
June 9: 9,910 cases, bar operators appeal to govt
Ghana’s case load is heading towards the 10,000 mark; as of close of day June 8, the tally stood at 9,910. Deaths have also gone up to 48.
Over in the Ashanti Region, drinking bar and pub operators have appealed to the government to consider easing some of the restrictions to enable them to resume their operations, the Ghana News Agency reports.
According to them, the continued closure of their businesses as a result of the COVID-19 was advsersely affecting them. Emmanuel Antwi Baah, regional Chairman of Pubs and Spot Operators Association said there were ready to enforce necessary protocols and guidelines.
Restrictions on gatherings were significantly watered down in president Akufo-Addo’s tenth address which allowed social gatherings like places of worship, weddings and funerals to take place with limited attendees and the observance of strict hygiene protocols.
Mr Baah appealed to the government to extend the COVID-19 stimulus package to members of the Association to enable them to stay in business, the report added.
Total confirmed cases = 9,910
Total recoveries = 3,645
Total deaths = 48
Active cases = 6,217
June 8: 9,638 cases, govt evacuation plans
Government has confirmed that it was preparing to evacuate some Ghanaians stranded overseas due to the COVID-19 disruption.
Foreign Affairs Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway in a written response to Parliament late last week, she said the ministry and relevant departments and agencies had been liaising for weeks how to undertake the phased evacuation.
There are four categories of evacuees for the purpose: those with the ability to pay, government-funded evacuation, distressed or destitute and deportees.
So far evacuations have been don from Kuwait (May 23 of 230 persons), Lagos, Mauritania, Turkey and Washington – all thigs being equal must have happened by today.
Some of the biggest evacuations being worked on are over 670 people from China and 500 form the United Arab Emirates. Ghanaians in neighbouring countries will be bussed back under special conditions considering that all borders have been and remain closed.
The first day of church reopening was on Sunday after the lifting of strict sanctions of public gathering. Only a handful churches agreed to undertake what were brief services amid the observance of health protocols as by law required.
Those that did not reopen cited the need for more time to guarantee safety of congregants. Last Friday, the situation was the same for most mosques. The national chief Imam asked that facilities remain closed even though a number of mosques went ahead with service.
Total confirmed cases = 9,638
Total recoveries = 3,636
Total deaths = 44
Active cases = 5,958
Figures valid as of close of day June 7, 2020
June 7: 9,462 cases, deaths hit 44
The Managing Director of a major private health care facility in the capital Accra reported testing positive for the virus. Elikem Tamaklo of Nyaho Hospital confirmed that he contracted the disease in the community.
The hospital located in a residential area of Accra said the MD had not been physically at post for two weeks as part of social distancing guidelines to help contain spread of COVID-19. His family was also affected and all of them were undergoing treatment, a statement said.
“I am currently doing well … The stigma that some have had to endure is unfair, unfounded and has no basis,” he told workers in a recorded video message.
“We all need to continue to do our best and remain disciplined by observing all the recommended preventive measures, such as washing hands with soap under running water, frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and maintaining social distancing measured when in public and in enclosed spaces,” he added.
The elections body has meanwhile said 15 out of 16 regions have undergone a successful pilot for upcoming voters registration – back by government and opposed by opposition parties. The body has been hauled to court over its plans amid virus spread.
Ghana’s death toll whiles relatively very low, have reached 44. It remained sub 40 even when cases had passed 6,000. President Akufo-Addo weeks back thanked God for sparing Ghana huge deaths compared to other countries.
Total confirmed cases = 9,462
Total recoveries = 3,547
Total deaths = 44
Active cases = 5,871
Figures valid as of close of day June 6, 2020
June 3: 8,297 cases; govt defends ban on football
Sports Minister, Isaac Asiamah has defended government’s decision to maintain a ban on football despite the recent lifting of a raft of restrictions. He was speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday.
According to the Minister, the cost of putting necessary measures in place, from the regular disinfection of stadia to testing players, was too high. Restrictions on non-contact sports were lifted in the president’s 10th address.
“How do we disinfect all the stadia, the hotels because the players sleep there? How do we test all these players?” Asiamah quizzed.
He also pointed out that it would be near impossible to keep fans from gathering during games. “In our environment, is it possible to play football without our supporters? The figure that came out from the NSA was about GHS 60,000 per match. That’s a major challenge.”
Football is Ghana’s most followed sport. The local league only returned after a corruption probe involving the former association president Kwesi Nyantakyi caused the league to be suspended. A normalization committee took charge of affairs till a new set of executives were voted into office.
Total confirmed cases = 8,297
Total recoveries = 2,986
Total deaths = 38
Active cases = 5,273
June 2: Minister issues guidelines for churches, mosques
The Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, Samuel Kofi Dzamesi, has expanded on a government plan for reopening of places of worship across the country.
He was speaking at a multi-sectoral press briefing on Monday, a day after the president delivered his tenth COVID-19 address to the nation. Some of the key planks of the directives include:
- As part of the guidelines, every church or religious body is to registered with the Registrar General’s Department and with the respective Municipal, Metropolitan or District Assembly.
- The religious bodies are expected to observe preventive protocols, including providing thermometer guns or thermal scanners to check the temperature of congregants at entry points of all venues
- Enforce a ‘No mask: No entry’ Policy, provide adequate waste management facilities and toilet facilities for use by members.
- Cleaning and disinfection of frequently used communal places like toilet surfaces and frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs or handles, preferably every one – two hours depending on the rate of utilisation.
- A holding room or area where a person who becomes sick at the premises can be isolated from others while making arrangements for evacuation.
- Every worshiper must be registered with their details, including names, phone numbers, manually or digitally, adding that digital registration can be done on GH COVID-19 APP or the PANABIOS App, which can be downloaded at no cost.
- Religious leaders would equally be held liable, adding that the District Assemblies and other agencies will monitor and ensure compliance with the directives.
Religious activities were thus to begin on Friday, June 5, with Muslims worshiping at the mosques, and Adventists and Christians following on Saturday Sunday, respectively.
Govt to close down religious institutions who flout anti-Covid-19 directives – GNA report
June 1: 8,070 cases, conditional lifting of most restrictions
Ghana’s case load passed the 8,000 mark on last day of May 2020 as president Akufo-Addo addressed the nation lifting conditionally a raft of restrictions.
Schools are to open in mid-June, religious places can reopen with strict conditions and the observance of health protocols. Social gatherings are to be allowed under certain conditions.
The address, the tenth by the president, also spelled out measures that government was putting in place to curb the spread of the virus. “Consensus from stakeholder consultation recommend a phased approach to easing anti Covid-19 restrictions,” he said.
- With effect from Friday 5th June, Ghana will begin the implementation of gradual easing of restrictions
- Final year university students to report to school on 15th June, 2020
- Faith-based organisations to start communal worship, effective Friday, June 5, amid social distancing and hygiene protocols
- All schools, both private and public remain closed. Only final year students access those facilities.
- Each student, teacher and non teaching staff will be provided with reusable face mask by the Ministry of Education prior to reopening for final year students
- Weddings with not more than 100 guests can be organized
- Public political activities, except for rallies, to resume with less than 100 people, amid observation of social distancing and hygiene protocols
- 218, 425 Covid-19 tests conducted so far
Total confirmed cases = 8,070 (new cases = 189)
Total recoveries = 2,947
Total deaths = 36
Active cases = 5,087