Yesterday, at the usual 8:00 pm time, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo gave his update number 28th, a series on measures to deal with COVID-19 in the country since the pandemic began. Here are excerpts from his address:
Fellow Ghanaians, good evening.
I first came to your homes on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, five days after our nation’s 63rd Independence Day celebration, a day before we recorded our first two cases, with news of the measures government was taking to limit the importation of the Covid-19 virus into the country. Even at that time, it was obvious to me, watching what was happening in Asia, Europe and Latin America, that, if it was not well-managed, it would disrupt our lives and livelihoods.
I, therefore, instructed the Finance Minister, which was announced in Update No.1, to find the cedi equivalent of one hundred million dollars ($100 million), to enable us to prepare and mount an appropriate response to the pandemic. Since then, we have experienced four waves of the outbreak. Some 160,932 people have tested positive from the 2.4 million tests conducted, and 1,445 people have, sadly, died.
Our comprehensive strategy has entailed living with restrictions that altered our daily routine; we have been restrained from shaking hands and hugging one another; we have had to keep a distance from each other; we have had to put up with the discomfort of wearing face masks every time we left our homes; we have had to endure distress caused by the poking of our nostrils and throats with swab-sticks, each time we underwent a PCR or antigen test; we had to endure, for three weeks, the painful lockdown in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area and Kasoa and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area and contiguous districts; and we have all borne the brunt of the ravages of the pandemic.
As your President, I saw it as my duty to provide you with regular updates on the situation, the measures government is taking, and to seek your support and co-operation. That is why I have been a constant feature on your screens these past two years, in the addresses that have now become popularly referred to as “Fellow Ghanaians”, and I thank you for welcoming me so warmly into your homes. You have listened to me, you have co-operated with Government and with the health experts, you have adhered to the enhanced hygiene and mask-wearing protocols, and a considerable number of you have taken the vaccine.
I thank you for the opportunity you have given me to be your President in these difficult times. I do not take it lightly. The relative successes we have chalked in winning the fight against COVID-19 have been collective ones, which reinforce my belief that, if we are united, there is no obstacle or hurdle too high to surmount in our quest to build a progressive and prosperous Ghana.
Fellow Ghanaians, undoubtedly, like in every country in the world, the effects of the pandemic have been devastating for us, in Ghana. We have felt the brunt of COVID-19, with every aspect of national life affected. I did say at the say the height of the pandemic that “we know what to do to bring the economy back to life, but what we do not know is how to bring peoples back to life”. We, thus, had to take drastic steps to protect lives and livelihoods by suspending, for the years 2020 and 2021, our pursuit of fiscal responsibility, which had made the Ghanian economy the poster boy of rapid economic growth in the world in 2017,2018, and 2019.
You would recall that, in response to the pandemic, I mandated the creation of the Coronavirus Alleviation Programs to support household and micro, small and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs). It is intent was to help minimise job losses, and stimulate economic revitalisation, by mobilizing private and public sector finances to expand industrial output for domestic consumption and exports.
To this end, I instituted a GHc 1.1 billion health response package, which was used to procure supplies and equipment, and a relief package for health workers, which includes tax waivers, allowances, transportation and COVID- insurance. The government also found the money for its recruitment.