Former President John Mahama has called for mass testing for students, teachers and churchgoers should the government ease restrictions such that schools and churches resume.
In a message to Ghanaians ahead of the weekend, Mr Mahama said: “In the face of the imminent easing of restrictions, let me repeat the call on the government to consider conducting mass testing, at least, at the point of need”.
“What it means”, the flag bearer of the National Democratic Congress explained, “is that, for instance, all students, teachers, and ancillary staff returning to school or church attendants, following the easing of restrictions, should undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test as a safety precaution”.
In his view, the government has “accumulated enough resources in the name of COVID-19 to be able to fund a mass testing, even if it has to rely on private laboratories; for the sake of the life and health of Ghanaians”.
“I must indicate here my support for the position of the various teacher unions and parents who have spoken and cautioned against the hasty reopening of schools. The government must pay close attention and take into consideration, the concerns of the various unions and parents”.
“Finally”, he said, “as I have always said, any decision taken by the government to ease restrictions must be based on the utmost respect for human life and the science of the disease we are dealing with”, adding: “Decisions based on false premises will have grave consequences for us all, Ghanaians”.
“My party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), congratulates once again, all our health workers, still at the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus. Ghanaians truly appreciate your sacrifices, and you can be assured that your commitment and sacrifice will never be forgotten”, he noted.
Last week, President Nana Akufo-Addo announced that stakeholder consultations were taking place on the way forward toward the easing of COVID-19 restrictions so that the social and economic lives of Ghanaians “can go back to normal”.
“I expect these consultations to conclude this week”, he said at a virtual national Eid celebration on Sunday, 24 May 2020, adding: “So that I can announce to Ghanaians a clear roadmap for easing the restrictions”.
“We have to find a way back, but in safety, for we cannot be under these restrictions forever”, the President said.
President Akufo-Addo said at the Eid ceremony that his confidence in easing the restrictions is “fortified” by three considerations: “Firstly, sad though any premature death is, the hard fact is that the rate of deaths in Ghana amongst confirmed cases is very low – one per one million, i.e. 0.0001%, one of the lowest in Africa, and, indeed, in the world, this, despite the very high number of tests we are carrying out”.
“This has been so since the very beginning of the outbreak over two (2) months ago. The number of positive cases stands at six thousand, six hundred and eighty-three (6,683), out of one hundred and ninety-four thousand, seven hundred and sixty-three (194,763) tests conducted, with one thousand, nine hundred and ninety-eight (1,998) recoveries. This means that our positivity rate, that is the ratio of confirmed cases to the total number of tests conducted, is 3.43%, which, again, is one of the lowest in Africa, and in the world.
“Furthermore, virtually all the thirty-two (32) corona-related deaths, that have so far been recorded, were of persons with, what the doctors call, comorbidity, i.e. with other underlying causes and diseases. Most of them died within twenty-four (24) hours of admission to hospital. May their souls rest in peace. It appears that, by the grace of God, Ghanaians are not dying of this virus in the numbers that were originally anticipated and feared”, he observed.
Secondly, the president noted, the “numbers of severe virus cases that have been hospitalised have been persistently low since the outbreak”, adding: “The fear that our hospitals would be overburdened, and, indeed, overwhelmed has, so far, again by the grace of God, not materialised. As we speak, there are sixteen (16) severe cases in six (6) hospitals across the country, none of them on a ventilator. We pray for their speedy recovery”.
Thirdly, he announced: “We now have a more robust mechanism for enforcing our central strategy of defeating the virus – the application of the 3Ts, tracing, testing and treating. The tracing teams are more experienced and more efficient; testing capabilities are no longer concentrated in Accra and Kumasi, but spread more evenly across the country in Ho, Tamale, Navrongo, Takoradi and Cape Coast; treating capacity has been considerably enhanced with isolation facilities better distributed across the nation”.
“These developments, and continuing strong adherence to the social distancing and hygiene protocols, including wearing masks and strengthening our immune systems by eating our own foods, will enable us to face the future with greater confidence, as we battle to defeat the virus, and pray for our healthcare workers. And, it is appropriate that we should end this unique Ramadan with this declaration of confidence in the future, because, as I have said, this too shall pass! For the battle is the Lord’s!!”
Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases in Ghana has risen to 7,616, according to the latest figures from the Ghana Health Service.
The number of recoveries has also risen to 2,421.
The death toll remains 34.
Greater Accra Region – 5,331
Ashanti Region – 1,160
Western Region – 395
Central Region – 376
Eastern Region – 117
Western North Region – 63
Volta Region – 59
Northern Region – 36
Oti Region – 26
Upper East Region – 26
Upper West Region – 22
North East Region – 2
Savannah Region – 1
Bono Region – 1
Bono East Region – 1
Ahafo Region – 0