President Akufo-Addo says he can only announce a roadmap for easing COVID-19 restrictions after stakeholder consultations on the matter conclude this week.
The restrictions have been in force since March 15 as part of measures to contain the spread of the Novel Coronavirus in the country. They included a ban on social gatherings, closure of schools, shutting of Ghana's national borders and a partial lockdown of Accra, Kumasi and Kasoa.
In a virtual address to mark the Eid celebrations today (May 24, 2020), President Akufo-Addo said safety must be a key factor in the lifting of restrictions.
He said: "Stakeholder consultations are taking place on the way forward towards the easing of restrictions, so that our social and economic lives can go back to normal. I expect these consultations to conclude this week, 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.
"I am fortified in this view by three (3) 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.
"Secondly, the numbers of severe virus cases that have been hospitalised have been persistently low since the outbreak. 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, 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".
President Akufo-Addo also urged the public to continue adhering to social distancing protocols and hygiene protocols.
"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".