When the time came, the Health and Information ministers, flanked by the Director of Public Health, Dr Badu Sarkodie and other officials from the Ghana Health Service, sat at a conference room table, the microphone before them prodded up by a makeshift stand, a speakerphone. The Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, introduced the health minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, who then proceeded to read his short statement.
“Fellow Ghanaians, Good evening,” Mr Agyeman Manu started. “The Ministry of Health has confirmed two cases of Covid-19.”
The tests were conducted at the Noguchi Centre for Medical Research in Accra, he declared, adding that both results were received at about the same time.
“Both individuals returned to Ghana – one from Norway, the other from Turkey,” the health minister said. “So these are imported cases of Covid-19. Both patients are currently being kept in isolation and are stable. We have initiated processes for contact tracing.”
After assuring the nation that the government will continue to “work assiduously” to contain the situation, the minister urged Ghanaians to observe basic hygienic practises to avoid the spread of the disease – handwashing with soap, using hand sanitizers and the avoidance of handshakes in these uncertain times as well as the need to be physically active, eating well, hydrating and getting enough rest.
Mr Agyeman Manu was done with his statement in just about four historic minutes. It remains to be seen how history will judge the government and its response to this pandemic which, has gotten politicians and health professionals around the world scratching their heads.
If President Akufo-Addo’s address to the nation on Wednesday evening is anything to go by, the government has been expecting Coronavirus in Ghana for a quite a while. Now, it’s here. But it’s an unwelcome guest and as the president indicated, all hands must be washed (literally) to help push Coronavirus out of the country.