President Akufo-Addo

The government has made available $100 million as part of Ghana’s preparedness and response measures to combat coronavirus threats.

Addressing the nation hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic, President Akufo- Addo said it is necessary to step up the county’s preparedness to fight the disease in case of an outbreak.

“At my prompting, the Minister for Finance has made available the cedi equivalent of $100 million to enhance our coronavirus preparedness and response plan.

“That is to fund the expansion of infrastructure, purchase of materials and equipment and public education,” President Akufo-Addo said.

All of Ghana’s neighbours – Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire – have recorded cases of the deadly disease.

There are now more than 100 cases recorded in 11 countries in Africa, according to the latest figures from WHO.

Egypt remains the nation with the most reported cases with 59, more than half of all confirmed cases on the continent.

Already, President Akufo-Addo has suspended, temporarily, all foreign travels for all public officials.

In a circular issued by the Chief of Staff, Frema Osei-Opare, and addressed to all sector Ministers and their deputies, Regional Ministers and their deputies, all Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Chief Executives, and all Heads of Government Agencies, the Chief of Staff stressed that only essential and critical foreign travels will be considered and, thereafter, approved.

“The directive, together with other measures being put in place by Government, is intended to protect the general public from contracting the virus. Please take note and ensure compliance,” the statement added.

In his address to the nation on Wednesday evening, President Akufo-Addo said except for critical assignments, “all public officials are to remain within the jurisdiction until further notice.”

He said video conferencing facilities and other technological tools should be utilized, whenever possible, for international engagements.

“I have also instructed further enhancements of the protocols for inbound traffic from already affected countries.”

President Akufo-Addo urged Ghanaians to, as much as possible, desist from all foreign travels except the most critical ones until there is a grip on the virus.

He also disclosed that the Ministry of Information is leading a nationwide public education campaign on preventive measures “and we must all observe to ensure that we are able to control the spread of infections, should we record any infections in the country, which mercifully so far, we have not but which by the law of averages we shall.

“For the time being, a weekly update on the situation will be provided by the Minister and there will be more frequent updates should the need arise,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo reiterated the call for cultural practices such as handshakes to be stopped completely.

“This fight cannot be that of government alone, it is for all of us. I urge the media to join this course fully and help disseminate fully in formation on the dos and don’ts of the disease,” he urged.

The information to be put out, however, must be approved by health authorities and not from any price of literature found on the internet, he advised.

He also appealed to civil society organizations, schools, universities, father based organizations, and places that harbor large gatherings such as classrooms, lecture halls, meetings, parties and funerals, to put in place mechanisms to caution and assist patrons on basic preventive measures.