Some 30,000 people who entered Ghana between 3 and 21 March 2020 are to be traced and mandatorily tested for coronavirus, President Nana Akufo-Addo has ordered.
This is part of the interventions put in place by the government to mitigate the spread of the virus which has affected 132 people and caused three deaths, so far.
So far, out of some 1,030 that were mandatorily quarantined and tested after arriving in the country just before the borders were closed, 78 have tested positive.
Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo said on Thursday that despite the criticism of the measures his government put in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus such as banning of all international flights, closing all of Ghana’s borders to human traffic as well as mandatorily quarantining all persons who entered Ghana from abroad, the number of imported cases of the virus detected so far, has vindicated those interventions.
As of the morning of Thursday, 26 March 2020, Ghana recorded 54 new cases of COVID-19.
All the three cases that succumbed to the disease were aged people and had underlying chronic medical conditions.
All the other 51 fresh cases are well; 14 are being managed at home and the rest are responding well to treatment on admission in isolation, the Ghana Health Service said, adding: "They are awaiting their test results and will be discharged when the results are negative".
"The great majority of the confirmed cases are Ghanaians, who returned home from affected countries. Seven (7) are from Norway, Lebanon, China, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom (UK). The number of confirmed cases among travellers under mandatory quarantine who have been tested is seventy-eight (78)".
In respect of contact-tracing, a total of 970 contacts have been identified and are being tracked.
Out of these, two hundred and four (204) have completed the 14-day mandatory follow-up.
Amidst the rising number of cases, several groups and experts have either written to the President or made public appeals to him to lock down the country.
The Ghana Trades Union Congress was the first to make that call in a letter to the President.
The TUC suggested only workers performing essential services should be allowed to work, but should be adequately protected from infection.
“Mr President, the risk of spread of the virus in Ghana remains high. We need more aggressive measures to protect the people from this deadly virus, including a lockdown if that is what is needed to protect the people”, the union explained.
It added: “The pharmaceutical industry and others that produce basic household supplies must be given financial and fiscal incentive to increase production.
“We strongly suggest that the government should provide sanitizers to make them affordable to everyone, regardless of their income levels.”
The TUC told the President in its letter: “These are extreme measures but they are necessary. We know that you have the courage to take these measures. Ghana is counting on you for a direction in this unprecedented health crisis.”
The TUC was taking a cue from advanced countries (Italy and USA in particular), which, in the last few weeks, have shown that no country has the health infrastructure to deal with COVID-19 totally.
In the view of the TUC, this indicates that "the success of the fight against the spread of COVID-19 depends more on the efficacy of political measures," adding: "China, which took the extreme but necessary measures and took them at the right time, has largely been successful in combating the spread of the virus."
Speaking to the leadership of the TUC at the Jubilee House on Thursday, President Akufo-Addo welcomed the union’s concerns and assured the leadership that his government is taking all the necessary measures based on constant reviews of the situation, in dealing with the problem.
For instance, the President said, “It’s clear that the measure we took to close our borders, ban international travel, and, in the immediate aftermath of that banning, everybody who came to Ghana had to be subjected to mandatory quarantine as well as testing; at the time there were a lot of comments, many of them unhelpful, but at the end of the day, I believe the decision to ban international travel as well as to take the measures of quarantine and testing are being vindicated by facts”.
“It tells us that the overwhelming number of confirmed cases of infections that we have in Ghana are all from people who came from abroad and of those who came and have been quarantined, an extreme number, some over fifty-odd have been found to carry the virus.
“So, focusing on the importation of the virus and the infection has proved to be absolutely spot on and we are now seeing the benefits of these measures but we can never stop there, we have to constantly look at whatever additional measures are there that will put us in a strong place to deal with this pandemic, this menace and that is what we are constantly doing”, the President said.
The TUC leaders present were the Secretary-General Dr Yaw Baah; Deputy Secretary-General of the TUC, Joshua Ansah; Chairman of the TUC, Richard Yeboah; Vice-Chairman of the TUC, Alex Nyarko-Opoku; and the Head of Research and Chief Economist of the TUC, Dr Kwabena Nyarko-Otoo.