I have come into your homes, again, this evening to provide an update, as I promised, on the measures taken by Government to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.
You may recall that on Wednesday, 12th March, 2020, when I first spoke to you directly on this matter, I announced the first raft of enhanced measures taken in response to the pandemic. At the time, there had been no reported, confirmed case of the Coronavirus in Ghana.
Since then, six (6) confirmed cases have been announced, all of people who recently travelled into the country. Advisories on how to manage the developments have also been announced by the Ministries of Health and Information. Public education is being intensified to ensure that citizens are well advised on preventive measures.
Earlier today, Sunday, 15th March, 2020, I chaired a meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Coronavirus response. After deliberations, I have decided, in the interest of public safety and the protection of our population, to review the public gathering advisories earlier announced as follows:
1. All public gatherings, including conferences, workshops, funerals, festivals, political rallies, sporting events and religious activities, such as services in churches and mosques, have been suspended for the next four (4) weeks. Private burials are permitted, but with limited numbers, not exceeding twenty-five (25) in attendance;
2. All Universities, Senior High Schools, and basic schools, i.e. public and private schools, will be closed Monday, 16th March, 2020, till further notice. The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communication, has been tasked to roll out distance learning programmes. However, BECE and WASSCE candidates will be allowed to attend school to prepare for their examinations, but with prescribed social distancing protocols;
3. The Government of Ghana’s Travel Advisory issued earlier today should be observed as announced;
4. Businesses and other workplaces can continue to operate, but should observe prescribed social distancing between patrons and staff;
5. Establishments, such as supermarkets, shopping malls, restaurants, night clubs, hotels and drinking spots, should observe enhanced hygiene procedures by providing, amongst others, hand sanitizers, running water and soap for washing of hands;
6. The Ministry of Transport should work with the transport unions and private and public transport operators to ensure enhanced hygienic conditions in all vehicles and terminals, by providing, amongst others, hand sanitizers, running water and soap for washing of hands; and
7. The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development should co-ordinate, with the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, measures to enhance conditions of hygiene in markets across the country.
Additionally, as the experts conduct contact tracing, I appeal to all to co-operate with them to ensure that persons who have come into contact with positive cases are identified and supported.
I have directed the Attorney General to submit, immediately, to Parliament emergency legislation, in accordance with Article 21 (4) (c) & (d) of the Constitution of the Republic, to embody these measures, and I have further directed the Minister for Health to exercise his powers, under section 169 of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851), by the immediate issuance of an Executive Instrument, to govern the relevant measures. I call upon Parliament to support the Executive in this national endeavour.
As I said earlier, there is every need to observe prescribed social distancing and good personal hygiene to prevent community spread. We are determined to do whatever we can to prevent the spread of the virus, and protect the population. All the measures that have been announced will be subject to constant review and enhancement, if necessary.
Fellow Ghanaians, these are not ordinary times, so, let us all put our shoulders to the wheel, and I am confident that, together, by the Grace of God, we shall overcome this challenge.
May God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.
I thank you for your attention.