President Akufo-Addo will address Ghanaians for the 7th time to update the citizenry on the measures taken by the government to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
As president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo gears up to speak tonight, one thing citizens look up to is the impact of the measures put in place and how it will be directly or indirectly affect them.
Checks by GHPILOLO.COM has it that, Ghanaians expect Akufo-Addo speech tonight to revolve around but not limited to; the ban on public gathering, state of the partial lockdown and the worrying trend of food sharing in lockdown areas which has come under severe criticisms in the past week.
Below is a short analysis of what Ghanaians expect from President Akufo-Addo as he addresses the country tonight.
BAN OF PUBLIC GATHERING
The ban on public gathering was declared on Sunday, 15th March, 2020. This was the first in a series of restrictions to come later on. It was given a 4 weeks timeline which ended a week ago. After this however, another week was added only a week ago. Question is, will the ban finally be lifted?
The directive on lockdown was first announced on the 29th of March,2020. Given a two weeks deadline, it affected the Greater Accra, Kasoa and Greater Kumasi and its environs. This partial lockdown meant that the movement of citizens was limited as they only have to go out to run essential services (where they fall in that category) or get some essential items like food and medicine.
In the weeks that followed, security forces from the country’s security apparatus were deployed to parts of the country where the lockdown affected to enforce the directives of the lockdown according to the imposition of restrictions bill 2020.
Barriers have been mounted on major roads to also endure that movement is well regulated especially, those moving from the affected lockdown regions (where cases of the disease have been recorded) into other parts of the country to prevent further spread. In his 6th address again, President Akufo-Addo again extended the lockdown period by one week which ends tomorrow.
In the past weeks, the debate has centered primarily on whether or not there should be a total lockdown of the whole country. Will the country see a total lockdown? If not, how many more weeks will be added to the almost expired period of extension? Or will some regions per their number of recorded cases be included?
The issue of food sharing has become a matter of focus since it commenced. Over 400,000 households have been earmarked as beneficiaries of this government intervention.
The worry of many is the allegation that; to be a benefactor of the government free food is based on political party lines which has generated a huge controversy between some prominent citizens including a renowned journalist and a member of parliament and also the disregard of social and physical distancing which has characterized the sharing of relief items, thus the need for President Akufo-Addo to speak to the issue and give a clear cut roadmap for it.
PROJECTIONS FOR LOCKDOWN EXTENSION OR CALL-OFF
The president in his last address to the nation, said “Whilst the results are encouraging, in suggesting a limited number of positives and community spread, we expect to be able to test some ten thousand (10,000) additional samples in the coming week to give us a clearer picture to enable us take a decision on the way forward”
This meant that the results from these additional 10,000 samples which would add up to some 14,611 that had already been tested with 77 positive cases.
In his engagements with the media last week, the minister for information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah also made mention of some three major indicators that will help the government to either call off or extend the lockdown. The first was the case count coming from the enhanced surveillance which according to him gives a fair idea of how far the country is going ahead of the spread. This could show how well the country is in control of the situation.
As of the date of the president’s 6th address, the country had recorded 378 cases. In less than a week after, today, the number of cases have gone up to 834 cases spread across 10 out of the 16 regions in the country. Of this number, the total number of cases that have been recorded through enhanced contact tracing is 373 from the 72 as at the president’s last address. This sharp increase will mean the country is doing well with contact tracing (community spread).
Apparently, this could definitely lead to an extension of the lockdown in the two epicentres of the disease for Ghana; Accra and Kumasi, whose numbers have shot up.
Penultimately, Oppong Nkrumah said the number of positive cases outside the hot spot zones of Greater Accra, Greater Kumasi. In our bid to contain the disease, the number of cases recorded in the areas outside the hot spot zones mentioned will go in to inform the first indicator of the country’s control of the situation.
A look at the number of cases recorded cases in the other regions will be able to help reach a projection as to some decisions to be directed in tonight’s address.
Before the President’s last address, 7 out of the16 regions in Ghana had recorded cases of the disease. As at today, a total of 10 out of the 16 regions in the country. The numbers stand at 8 for the Upper West and East regions, 1 each for the Western, Central and North East regions, 11 for the Northern Region, 9 for the Volta region and 59 for Ashanti Region which is followed keenly by the Eastern Region’s 51 cases. Greater Accra stands with the highest number of 685 recorded cases.
This creates a forecast of either a one or two weeks extension lockdown for Accra and Kumasi with the Eastern Region standing with high possibilities of being added to the lockdown. A new twist could be added with either an extension which is more than two weeks or an inclusion of all regions that have recorded. The latter is less probable because they do not fall in the critical zone areas which might be informing the lockdown areas. A total lockdown however might not be on the table at the moment.
The last indicator mentioned was the socio-economic impact of the lockdown. According to Mr. Oppong Nkrumah, another thing that informs the lockdown decisions in the country is the socio-economic impact of the country. With many economists projecting a negative effect of a total lockdown to the country’s economy, it is less likely that will happen. However, with promises of the government to properly organizing the food sharing interventions for the vulnerable, it is more likely that some changes will be seen in the work which includes a door-to-door running of the intervention. This will mean that although partial, an additional measure of restriction might come in as beneficiaries might now be asked to stay at home whiles the food is delivered to prevent further contacts.
A random survey conducted by ghpilolo.com on social media had the following reponses from some Ghanaians:
Government should extend the partial lockdown by a week or two.
Nana Addo should extend the lockdown till June and give allowance to the unemployed.
President should set a roadmap for the food sharing in all lockdown areas.
President shouuld lockdown the country and give cash allowance for households.
President Akufo-Addo should address the plight of Ghanaian students with regards to online examination and learning.
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