President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has encouraged Ghanaians to adopt healthy habits to defeat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, that has killed close to 370,000 people, globally.
He said, in Ghana, it had been established that the case of co-morbidity - underlying health conditions associated with almost all the COVID-19 deaths, were mainly diabetes and hypertension.
The risk factors for these diseases include overweight, eating refined foods, too much salt and sugar in meals, inadequate physical exercise, excessive alcohol intake, and smoking.
Ghana’s caseload stands at 8,070, with 2,947 recoveries and 36 deaths.
President Akufo-Addo in his 10th address to the nation on the coronavirus crisis – to outline phased easing of restrictions to re-open the country, said: “It is crucial that we improve our fitness levels and adopt healthy eating practices that incorporate our local food stuffs, which boost our immune systems.”
He urged persons suffering from non-communicable diseases to take extra precautions to avoid catching the pathogen.
He added that they also took their treatment seriously.
He applauded the population far for their support and co-operation in the fight to contain and stop the spread of the respiratory illness, despite the harsh effects of the various restrictions on their socio-economic, religious and educational lives.
President Akufo-Addo noted that the West African country’s “hospitalization and death rates have been persistently very low, some of the lowest in Africa and in the world”.
Ghanaians are not dying of the virus in the hundreds and thousands, as earlier anticipated.
“Indeed, we are witnessing a much milder manifestation of the virus in the country, than was initially feared,” he said.
He attributed this to the timely measures taken by the government to halt the spread of the virus, after the confirmation of the first two positive cases, on March 12.
The nation’s response to the global pandemic has been to limit and stop the importation of the virus, contain its spread, provide adequate care for the sick, limit the impact on social and economic life and to use the opportunity afforded by the emergency to expand domestic capability and deepen self-reliance.
To achieve these, the government, on March 15, placed a ban on public gatherings and closed down all schools and universities.
Seven days on, the President announced additional containment measures - placed restrictions on the movement of persons in the Greater Accra Metropolitan area, Tema, Kasoa and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan area and contiguous districts, for the period of three weeks, which had then become hotspots of the pandemic.
To help ease the economic difficulties that the tough measures brought to households and businesses, far-reaching reliefs including subsidies on utilities for all, tax reliefs and financial packages for businesses and incentives for frontline health workers, were provided.
President Akufo-Addo asked everybody to continue to adhere to personal hygiene and social distancing protocols - regular hand washing with soap under running water, or use of alcohol-base hand sanitizers, refrain from shaking hands and mandatory wearing of face masks when going out to public places.
He called for the Ministry of Information, the National Commission for Civic Education and the media to intensify public education on these protocols and entreated religious, traditional, community and opinion leaders to work closely with the government in engaging, mobilizing and enforcing adherence to social distancing and personal hygiene practices in their respective communities.