COVID-19 restrictions: To lift or not to lift?

The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is expected to address the nation by Sunday (tomorrow) on Ghana’s next action in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Currently, over 7,000 people have been inffected with more than 2,000 recoveries and 34 deaths recorded, as of Thursday, May 26.

When deductions of the recoveries and the death are done, it would bring the active cases to over 4,000.

So far, the country has tested 204,909 people for COVID-19 according to the Ghana Health Service (GHS) as at Thursday May 26, 2020

Against this backdrop, there have been a lot of agitations within the country on the next move, as to whether the restrictions currently in place should be relaxed.

After the country lifted the earlier partial lockdown measure, there were some restrictions which were not touched.

These restrictions were made to continue to help stop or contain the spread.

They included the ban on all social gathering with exemptions to some programmes, additionally, schools, churches, night clubs, drinking spots among others remained shut.

Also, the country’s boarders, air, land and sea remained closed to travellers unless under emergency or extreme circumstances.

Hotels and restaurants are not operating in full capacity, due to the containment measures.

There had been measures like wearing of nose mask in public, observing of social distancing and adherence to effective hand washing and use of sanitisers.

This notwithstanding, private school teachers and owners as well as stakeholders in the hospitality sectors have complained of harsh economic challenges due to the measures.

Clearly, this had even led to laying off of staff, and in some cases, a cut in salaries to cushion operational costs of companies.

With regard to the schools, an Educationist, Professor Stephen Adei on Joy Prime Morning, television show this week has said that government should not be in a rush to open schools to students while the country is still fighting the coronavirus.

According to him, final year students alone could be asked to go to school to limit the spread of the virus among students.

On the religious front, there are different views, where some men of God have been clamouring for the re-opening of churches with some laid-down protocols to ensure the measures were adhered to.

Some also believe that it is too early for such move, saying it could become a hot spot in the spread of the virus.

Elsewhere in the United State of America, President Donald Trump had declared churches as essential service and demanded that governors of various states reopen them despite the COVID-19 lockdown.

Most businesses including bars, hairdressers, schools, transportation services, shops, are reopening after more than two months of nationwide lockdown measures.

This notwithstanding, the World health Organisation (WHO) has warned of a second peak of coronavirus cases. 

During a media briefing on Monday, Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said “right now, we are right in the middle of the first wave, globally. We’re still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up,” he added.

A WHO infectious disease epidemiologist, Maria Van Kerkhove, said “all countries need to remain on high alert here. All countries need to be ready to rapidly detect cases, even countries that have had success in suppression. Even countries that have seen a decline in cases must remain ready.”  

Now, most Ghanaians would be waiting anxiously for the President’s “monumental” address on the way forward tomorrow, to lift or not to lift?

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