Fellow Ghanaians, good evening.
Today is the sixth time I am coming into your homes since we begun our collective effort to combat the Coronavirus pandemic, and to implement measures aimed at containing and defeating it.
I have, first of all, to tell you how proud and privileged I am to be your President, not just to fight for you, but also to fight with you, and to help shepherd our country out of this crisis.
I said, in my last address, that Government’s policy in this entire drama will be largely driven by science. We will, as much as possible, be guided by the data, with our focus on the 3-Ts, i.e. tracing, testing and treatment. We now see that the decision to close down our borders has been justified. One hundred and five (105) of the confirmed cases came from those who were mandatorily quarantined and tested on their arrival on 21st and 22nd of March. One hundred and ninety-two (192) of the cases came from travelers, who entered our country before the closure, and their contacts. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of the three hundred and seventy-eight (378) confirmed cases are, thus, imported. Clearly, until we have the situation fully under control, we cannot, at this time, open our borders. They will have to remain shut until further notice.
Further, the partial lockdown of Accra and Kumasi has facilitated a more aggressive programme of enhanced contact tracing, with a total of four hundred and fifty (450) teams.
Thirty-seven thousand, four hundred and five (37,405) samples have been taken, of which thirty-one thousand, nine hundred and thirty-three (31,933) are in Accra, and five thousand, four hundred and seventy-two (5,472) are in Kumasi. As at Wednesday, 8th April, a total of fourteen thousand, six hundred and eleven (14,611) contacts of the samples collected have been tested for the virus in Accra and Kumasi. For Accra, eleven thousand, three hundred and eight (11,308) contacts were tested, and fifty-two (52), i.e. zero point four six percent (0.46%), of them were found to be positive. In Kumasi, three thousand and three hundred and three (3,303) contacts have been tested, and twenty-five (25), i.e. zero point seven six percent (0.76%) have been found to be positive. In total, seventy-seven (77) positive cases were recorded in Accra and Kumasi, representing zero point five three percent (0.53%) of the fourteen thousand, six hundred and eleven (14,611) tested.
Whilst the results are encouraging, in suggesting a limited number of positives and community spread, we expect to be able to test some ten thousand (10,000) additional samples in the coming week to give us a clearer picture to enable us take a decision on the way forward.
It appears that our common efforts have been modestly successful in containing the virus and minimising its spread. Undoubtedly, the decisions taken from day one (1) to act quickly and decisively, and, impose what may have seemed like harsh restrictions, have now proven to be effective, and have saved a lot of lives.
However, this fight is not yet over, and we are by no means out of the woods yet. As I said, we now have, in total, three hundred and seventy-eight (378) confirmed cases of infections, with six (6) deaths, four (4) recoveries, two (2) in critical condition, and the remaining three hundred and seventy (370) are mild cases, who are in isolation, and are either being managed at home or at treatment centres.
Fellow Ghanaians, I have come to you this evening to ask for your continued patience, as we continue to implement and extend the efforts that have, so far, proven to be helpful. It is important that we stay the course, and bear with the difficulties that come with it. The final result, hopefully, will be freedom from the virus.
So, the decision has been taken, through the issuance of an Executive Instrument, to extend the restrictions on movement in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area and Kasoa and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area and its contiguous districts by one more week, beginning 1am on Monday, 13th April, subject to review.
As part of measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the social and economic life of the country, I indicated, in my last speech, that Government will absorb water bills for all Ghanaians for the next three months, i.e. April, May and June. Furthermore, water tankers, publicly and privately-owned, are being mobilised to ensure the supply of water to vulnerable communities. We have decided on further measures of mitigation for all Ghanaians for the next three months, i.e. April, May and June. Government will fully absorb electricity bills for the poorest of the poor, i.e. for all lifeline consumers, that is free electricity for persons who consume zero (0) to fifty (50) kilowatt hours a month for this period. In addition, for all other consumers, residential and commercial, Government will absorb, again, fifty percent (50%) of your electricity bill for this period, using your March 2020 bill as your benchmark. For example, if your electricity bill was one hundred cedis (GH¢100), you will pay only GH¢50, with Government absorbing the remaining fifty cedis (GH¢50). This is being done to support industry, enterprises and the service sector in these difficult times, and to provide some relief to households for lost income. Nevertheless, I urge all Ghanaians to exercise discipline in their use of water and electricity.
The food items being distributed in Accra and Kumasi to the vulnerable and needy are being done through NADMO and the MMDCEs, with the assistance of the faith-based organisations, to whom I am rendering a special word of gratitude.
I appeal to you, let us, in the meantime, continue to comply with the measures, let us maintain good hygiene and respect the social distancing protocols, even when you are going out to receive the food. But, above all, please stay at home. There have been unfortunate incidents of some persons, in some parts of the affected areas, where the restrictions are in force, flouting the regulations and continuing with the business-as-usual attitude, even to the extent of confronting members of the security services. That should not be countenanced. The law must be upheld, and it will be. I take no delight in announcing these restrictions, however, let us all remember that they have been put in place for our collective good.
The fight against Coronavirus has served as a humbling reminder of the things that matter, the things that cannot be bought, and the things that, all too often, go unappreciated, as a result of the stress of daily life. I refer to the health of those we love; the freedom to work and to congregate; the luxury of spontaneity; and the simple comfort of a handshake or a hug. These are the blessings of normalcy that we are fighting to restore, blessings that we must hold onto with a deeper sense of appreciation, once this pandemic has passed.
I express, on all our behalves, our gratitude for the assistance given to us by the Governments of the People’s Republic of China, the United States of America, the African Union, the African Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the European Union, and the Jack Ma Foundation. We appreciate their expression of solidarity. A friend in need is a friend indeed. I thank also all those who have made donations and contributions into the COVID-19 National Trust Fund for this kind gesture.
Fellow Ghanaians, today is Maundy Thursday, and tomorrow, a few hours from now, Friday, 10th April, Good Friday, is the start of Easter, which, for us Christians, commemorates the unique sacrifice that our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, made for our salvation on the cross of Calvary. The season is a good opportunity for all of us to reflect on that ultimate sacrifice, and for each one of us also to make a sacrifice for the sake of humanity’s survival.
We are used to attending Easter Conventions, making-merry, visiting friends and family, and having a good time. Yes, like a lot of you, I was also looking forward to visiting Kwahu during this time of the year, which I have been doing for several years. However, I am urging all of us to do the exact opposite of what we have been used to for many years. Stay at home. I ask you to keep your distance from your parents, grandparents and extended family, and celebrate this holiday apart. Do not host a big family gathering, and sternly refuse to attend one if you are invited. Your relatives will understand you are doing this out of love for them. Please, make that sacrifice.
Mesrɛ mo, asɛm aa makai, mondi su. Me ma mo afehyia pa
Min kpa nyɛ fai, nibii ni nkɛ, nyɛ ye nɔ. Afi oo afi.
So, on behalf of my beautiful Rebecca, my children, grandchildren and entire family, and members of Government, I wish you all a joyous and happy Easter, even if a restrained one. And, let me extend a special Easter goodwill message to our amazing health workers and to the members of our security agencies for their patriotic efforts.
May God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.
Have a good evening, enjoy the holidays, and I thank you for your attention.