Restive Ghanaians are calling for a lockdown in Accra and Kumasi, the country’s two major cities, as the country’s coronavirus case count increased Tuesday, rising from 27 to 53.
Shortly after the country’s Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, at a press briefing Tuesday morning in Accra, updated the nation on the chilling spike in the trajectory of the disease, waves of commentators took to social media, the radio, and street corner debates asking for a prompt shut down on movements, and work in the two major cities, which according to Mr Agyemang-Manu are the epicentres of the disease in Ghana.
Radio commentators and phone-in callers were uncontrollable in their loud calls for a government action to truncate the trajectory of the pandemic. The regularly talkative Ghana Twitter went into a frantic overdrive as tweets after tweets ran over each other with proposals that the authors thought could help the government take a hold on the crisis. In no time, a hashtag, #LockdownGhana, had emerged as the organising mechanism for the public discontent and frustration.
“Lockdown is a must now. Only medical facilities should be opened. This is getting out of hands, now is not the time to wait until matters are worse. Wash ur hands & drink a lot of water, exercise the body. let’s fight this coronavirus together, all of us. Be safe #LockdownGhana,” a tweep tweeted.
“#LockdownNow. Expects are advising a #LockdownGhana and our president is playing deaf and dump. We will pray to our God to deliver us and not these our leaders. I know the #Lockdown will come with a high cost, just as the spread will come with a greater and even higher cost,” another tweeted.
Other social media users held a different view.
“H.E @NAkufoAddo I have seen so many people requesting a possible lockdown of the country and I would like to bring to your notice some reasons why the lockdown wouldn’t help. First of all, so many people always have to go out there to hustle for their daily bread and for that matter, how is that person going to eat if the country is locked down? A lot of people just think locking down is the best but don’t know the negative aspect of it and I’ll say, Ghana, our beloved country isn’t yet ready for a lockdown. In countries where there’s lockdown, they have access to about 90% of amenities and needs but is our country having the same things ?,” a Twitter user said.
“…the lock down is a good initiative but that would mean others dying slowly off of other important commodity as water. Some don’t even have lavatories in their homes and need the public once to ease themselves. Lock down in Ghana would be a blow to many,” another said.
The Tuesday count was the biggest jump since the first two cases were reported on March 12 provoking the country’s Information Minister, Kojo Nkrumah, to suggest the possibility of a lockdown, in response to a question at the press briefing.
“All options are on the table. Government continues to receive advice which is subjected to analysis by experts. The decision to lockdown is not one that is taken lightly or because we’ve seen other persons doing it. Experts continue to provide advice to decision makers,” he said.
The 26 new cases were confirmed after respiratory residue samples were taken from travellers who have been mandatorily quarantined, a statement on the Ghana Health Service dedicated website for citizens information on the COVID-19 crisis indicated.
“The sudden spike in case incidence is as a result of the mandatory quarantine and compulsory testing for all travellers entering Ghana, as directed by the president. As of 24 March, total of 1,030 are under mandatory quarantine; 844 have had their samples taken; 510 have had the samples tested; and out these twenty-six (26) tested positive for COVID-19,” the website said.
The majority of confirmed cases are Ghanaians who had returned from countries who have been affected by the coronavirus.
“Great majority of the confirmed cases are Ghanaians, who returned home from affected countries. Seven (7) are of other nationals namely: Norway, Lebanon, China, France, UK,” it added.
Mr Nkrumah disclosed at the press briefing that testing is still ongoing for the travellers who have been quarantined.
Mandatory Quarantine and Border closure
Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had on Saturday, March 21, 2020, directed a total closure of all its borders to human traffic with effect from Sunday, March 22, 2020. The president said the move was to aid prevent the spread of the Covid-19.
“All our borders, that is, by land, sea and air, will be closed to human traffic for the next two weeks beginning midnight on Sunday,” he said.
Travellers who arrive before the directive took effect were to undergo mandatory quarantine and Covid-19 testing.
“Anybody who comes into the country before on Sunday will be mandatorily quarantined and tested for the virus,” President Nana Akufo-Addo added.