President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

I write to wish President Akufo-Addo well following a statement released a while ago by the Information Minister that the president is “taking a fourteen (14) day precautionary self-isolation measure in compliance with Covid-19 protocols” on the advice of his doctors.

While I acknowledge the information given the public on the president’s close contact with Covid-19 as an important step, it is worth pointing out that we are going to need a lot of candour and clarity in dealing with the coronavirus disease.

In the first place, the Information Minister’s veiled and deceptive(?) statement will not help our fight against the disease. What exactly does the statement mean by “AT LEAST ONE PERSON within his close circle tested positive for Covid-19 today”? [Emphasis mine].

Is there a good reason for the statement lacking precision and exactitude as regards the number of person(s) who has/have tested positive within president Akufo-Addo’s close circle? Why is it talking about “at least one person” when it could have provided Ghanaians with the precise and accurate information? Is the statement intended to generate or encourage controversy about the number of persons infected in the close circle of the president? Does it intend that people conjure their own number(s) of persons infected in the close circle of the president? Does at least one person infected with coronavirus within the president’s inner circle connote two, three, four, five, six or more person?

I may be opposed to the president and disagree with him on policy and his highhandedness but I do not wish him struck by Covid-19.

Again, following the statement by the Information Minister, health professionals have been excited to point out the difference between the terms isolation and quarantine. Lovelyn Mawuena Enam, for example, clarifies both terms in a facebook post as follows:

“Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms. In public health The purpose is to prevent the spread of contagious disease/ preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.”

Do we take it that the Information Minister did not have a full appreciation of what isolation connotes or was that his way of letting us in on the real situation with the president? Back to the “at least one person” bit in the statement (I have already emphasised that it could mean more than one person), did that person (or persons) accompany Mr Akufo-Addo on his tour of registration centres to inspect the ongoing voter registration exercise? If she/ he (or they) did, that will certainly be nightmarish for for contact tracing.

The author, James Agyenim-Boateng is a former Deputy Minister of Information