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[FULL ADDRESS] – Nana Addo’s tenth (10th) address

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The restrictions in Ghana as a result of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) have been relaxed.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a televised address on Sunday night, May 31, 2020 announced the changes which he said would be implemented in phases in the coming weeks.

Below is a copy of the full address by the President

ADDRESS TO THE NATION BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC, NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, ON UPDATES TO GHANA’S ENHANCED RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, ON SUNDAY, 31ST MAY, 2020.

Fellow Ghanaians, good evening.

I have come again, for the tenth (10th) time, into your homes to speak to

you about the Coronavirus pandemic, share with you information about the

fight against the virus, and outline to you the decisions I have taken about

the next chapter of our common battle.

I thank each and every one of you for the collective and individual effort you

have put in to help contain the spread of the disease on our shores. The

great majority of us continue to adhere to the social distancing and enhanced

hygiene protocols; we have, as a result, altered our way of life to

accommodate these changes; and we continue to make sacrifices to speed

up the process of bringing our lives safely back to a state of normalcy. We

have demonstrated not only to ourselves, but also to the entire world, that

we are capable of charting our own path towards containing the spread of

this disease. We must all be proud that we have become a reference point

for others on how to combat it.

In all of this, I say a special ayekoo to our heroic healthcare workers, our

efficient teams of contact tracers and testers, our farsighted scientists, our

professional security personnel, and responsible members of our media, who

have done a yeoman’s job over the last eleven (11) weeks in the fight. Your

efforts are truly appreciated, and the Ghanaian people will always be in your

debt.

When the first two cases were confirmed on 12th March, 2020, we took timely

measures to attack the virus. We decided that we would, (i) limit and stop

the importation of the virus, (ii) contain its spread, (iii) provide adequate

care for the sick, (iv) limit the impact of the virus on social and economic

life, and (v) use the opportunity afforded by the emergency to expand our

domestic capability and deepen our self-reliance.

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To attain these objectives, and respond to the clear evidence that large

gatherings provide the most fertile grounds for the spread of the virus, on

15th March, three (3) days later, under the Imposition of Restrictions Act,

2020, Act 1012, I placed a ban on public gatherings and closed down all

schools and universities. On 21st March, I closed all our borders by land, air

and sea. Subsequently, on 27th March, I placed restrictions on movement of

persons in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area, Tema, Kasoa, and the

Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area and contiguous districts, for a period of

three (3) weeks.

In view of the obvious economic difficulties that the tough measures

brought, I also announced far-reaching reliefs to ease the economic and

social burden on households and businesses. These included subsidies on

utilities for all, tax reliefs and financial packages for businesses, and

incentives for our frontline health workers.

Fellow Ghanaians, as at today, Sunday, 31st May, under these measures, we

have conducted two hundred and eighteen thousand, four hundred and

twenty-five (218,425) tests; the number of positive cases stands at eight

thousand and seventy (8,070); two thousand, nine hundred and forty-seven

(2,947) persons have recovered; thirty-six (36) have sadly died; thirteen (13)

persons are severely ill, with three (3) critically-ill for which (1) is on a

ventilator; and five thousand and eighty-seven are responding to treatment

at home, isolation centres and hospitals.

Our hospitalisation and death rates have been, persistently, very low, some

of the lowest in Africa and in the world. The Ghanaian people are not dying

of the virus in the hundreds and thousands that were earlier anticipated, and

that are being seen on a daily basis in some other countries. Indeed, we are

witnessing a much milder manifestation of the virus in the country, than was

initially feared. And, I dare say, that it is the grace of God, and the measures

taken by Government that have produced this result.

Our ability to trace, test, and treat persons with the virus has improved

considerably; we now have a large army of efficient contact tracers; we have

expanded the number of testing facilities from two (2) to ten (10) across the

country; and we have increased appreciably the number of quarantine,

isolation and treatment centres. We have lessened our dependence on

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foreign imports, and scaled up significantly domestic production and

distribution of personal protective equipment to our healthcare workers,

evidenced in the provision of four million, four hundred and forty thousand,

six hundred and ninety (4,440,690) gloves; three million, five hundred and

twenty four thousand, two hundred and five (3,524,205) nose masks; sixty

two thousand, one hundred and ninety-four (62,194) goggles; one hundred

and nine thousand, eight hundred and twenty-nine (109,829) litres of

sanitizers; eighty five thousand, nine hundred and ninety-five (85,995) head

covers; eighty two thousand, six hundred and fifty-five (82,655) gowns; fifty

three thousand, five hundred and seventeen (53,517) medical scrubs; and

forty three thousand, six hundred and thirty-three (43,633) N-95 face masks.

As I have already said, everything that has been achieved, so far, would not

have been possible without the strong co-operation of you, the Ghanaian

people. I know, at firsthand, the devasting impact the measures employed

to defeat the virus has had on our social, religious, cultural and economic

lives, as well as on our jobs, and the education of our children, and yet,

because of love of country, we have borne with them. I know, however, that

we cannot live with these restrictions forever, and that it is imperative we

find a safe way to return our lives to normality, as other nations across the

globe are trying to do.

This has informed the stakeholder consultations that have occured over the

last few weeks with entities in the health, labour, religious, chieftaincy,

educational, hospitality, transport, sports, tourism and creative arts sectors.

These consultations have hinged on an analysis of the data gathered and

the adoption of best practices and experiences of other countries that have

attempted to move on in the wake of the pandemic.

A consensus has emerged from these consultations that we should embark

on a strategic, controlled, progressive, safe easing of restrictions to get our

lives and economy back to normal. As I stated in my May Day address, a

month ago, I am now in a position to outline the roadmap for easing safely

the restrictions. Ours is going to be a phased approach, involving a selected

list of public gatherings, based on their risk profile, socio-economic impact,

and, most importantly, our capacity to enforce and to respond, in the event

of a flair up in our number of infections.

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So, fellow Ghanaians, with effect from Friday, 5th June, we will begin Stage

One of the process of easing restrictions.

An abridged format for religious services can commence. Twenty-five

percent (25%) attendance, with a maximum number of one hundred (100)

congregants, can worship at a time in church or at the mosque, with a

mandatory one metre rule of social distancing between congregants. In

addition to the mandatory wearing of masks for all persons at all times in

churches and mosques, a register of names and contact details of all

worshippers and hand washing facilities and sanitisers must be provided,

with a maximum duration of one (1) hour for each service.

Religious institutions that are desirous of opening their premises to their

members, such as churches, mosques and others, must disinfect, fumigate

and put in place the requisite logistics needed to guarantee safe opening and

operation. They must work with the designated, regulatory bodies and

undertake test runs of the protocols I have outlined. I would appeal to them,

in the case of Christians, on the first Sunday of re-opening, i.e. 7th June, in

the case of the Adventists, Saturday, 6th June, and in the case of Muslims,

on the first Friday, i.e. Ṣalāt al-Jumuʿah on 5th June, to dedicate their

worship to prayers for the nation in these challenging times. The Minister for

Religious Affairs, will, tomorrow, Monday, 1st June, outline, in detail, the

specific guidelines for the safe reopening of our churches and mosques.

From Monday, 15th June, 2020, the decision has been taken, after

engagement with the Teacher Unions, whose co-operation I salute, to reopen

schools and universities to allow for final year junior high, senior high

and university students to resume classes ahead of the conduct of their

respective exit examinations. Indeed, final year university students are to

report to their universities on 15th June; final year senior high school (SHS

3) students, together with SHS 2 Gold Track students, on 22nd June; and

final year junior high school (JHS 3) students on 29th June. JHS 3 classes will

comprise a maximum of thirty (30) students; SHS classes a maximum of

twenty-five (25) students; and University lectures will take place with half

the class sizes.

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All final year students of educational and training institutions, which are

being managed by Ministries other than the Education Ministry, are to return

to school on 15th June to complete their exit examinations.

Again, prior to the opening of schools and universities, the Ministry of

Education, and the heads of public and private educational institutions, will

fumigate and disinfect their institutions. Each student, teacher, and nonteaching

staff will be provided with re-usable face masks by the Ministry of

Education. For the avoidance of doubt, all other educational facilities, private

and public, for non-final year students, will remain closed. The Minister for

Education, in the coming days, will outline, in detail, the specific guidelines

for the safe reopening of our schools and universities.

Private burials, now with a maximum of one hundred (100) persons, can

continue to be performed. Restaurants, providing seated services, can

operate under appropriate social distancing arrangements and hygiene

protocols. Individual, non-contact sports can go ahead. Conferences,

workshops, weddings, and political activities, except rallies, can now take

place, but with limited numbers not exceeding one hundred (100) persons

present, with the appropriate social distancing and hygiene protocols.

Market places, work places, public transport, and constitutional and statutory

bodies such as the Electoral Commission, the National Commission for Civic

Education and the National Identification Authority, whose activities were

exempted from the outset from these restrictions, must conduct their

activities in accordance with social distancing and the necessary hygiene and

safety protocols.

Whilst we step up public education of the protocols on public gatherings, let

me also state that regulatory agencies will undertake random checks to

ensure conformity with these rules, and the security services will be tasked

to enforce them. Should any institution fail to adhere to these directives, its

activity will be immediately prohibited, and relevant sanctions applied.

I have, by Executive Instrument, provided for these new directions, and

extended the suspension of the remaining public gatherings, as set out in

E.I. 64 of 15th March, until 31st July. In here, I refer to the suspension of

sporting events, nightclubs, cinemas, drinking spots, bars, beaches, festivals,

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funerals, political rallies, and large religious gatherings such as crusades,

pilgrimages and conventions.

Our border, by air, land and sea, remains closed until further notice for

human traffic. However, given that there are Ghana residents stranded

abroad, special dispensation is going to be given for their evacuation back

to Ghana, where they will be subjected to the mandatory quarantine and

safety protocols.

Fellow Ghanaians, it is said that with greater freedom comes greater

responsibility. The introduction of this phased opening up of our country

means that each and every one of us must continue to remain vigilant, and

respect the enhanced hygiene and social distancing protocols that have

become part and parcel of our daily routine over the last three (3) months.

We cannot afford to let our guard down, and ruin the successes we have

chalked over this period.

Yes, there exists the possibility of a potential surge in infections. As a

precautionary measure, we have strengthened further our existing national,

regional and district response teams, with the support of the security forces,

to step up to deal with any eventuality. Over recent weeks, we have learnt

from the cases at the fish processing plant in Tema, and in the Obuasi

municipality, how to deal with such sudden spikes. We will continue to learn,

review and adjust where and when we need to do so. We will only proceed

with this staggered opening up of our country when it is safe to do so.

Fellow Ghanaians, now, more than ever, we must adhere to enhanced

personal hygiene and social distancing protocols, wash our hands with soap

under running water, refrain from shaking hands, and wear our masks

whenever we leave our homes. In the Ghanaian context, it has been

established that the cases of comorbidity, i.e. underlying health conditions,

that are associated with almost all the COVID-related deaths, are mainly

diabetes and hypertension. The risk factors for these diseases are being

overweight, eating refined foods, too much salt and sugar in meals,

inadequate physical exercise, excessive alcohol intake, and smoking. It is,

thus, crucial that we improve our fitness levels, and adopt healthy eating

practices that incorporate our local food stuffs, which boost our immune

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systems. Persons with these diseases must take extra precautions, and take

their treatment seriously.

I am calling upon the Ministry of Information, the National Commission for

Civic Education and the media to intensify public education of these protocols

and directions. I entreat all religious, traditional, community and opinion

leaders to continue to partner with government in engaging, mobilising and

enforcing adherence to social distancing and personal hygiene practices in

their respective communities.

Fellow Ghanaians, as I stated in my fifth (5th) address to the nation, we will

protect people’s lives, then their livelihoods. It is this principle that guided

the decision to impose restrictions, and continues to guide me today. The

fact of the matter is that the measures we have taken appear, by the grace

of God, to be working, our healthcare system is, so far, not overwhelmed,

and, you, the Ghanaian people, have largely embraced the principles of

social distancing, the wearing of masks, and the enhanced hygiene

protocols, which are our most effective defences against the virus.

We have learnt many lessons from this pandemic. The most obvious is that

we have to fortify urgently our public health system. We have committed to

the implementation of ‘Agenda 88’, that is building, within a year, a fullyequipped,

functional district hospital for each district that does not have one,

and a fully-equipped, functional regional hospital for each of the new

regions, together with a new regional hospital for the Western Region, and

the rehabilitation of Effia Nkwanta Hospital in Sekondi. We have to empower

and increase the number of our healthcare professionals across board.

Universal Health Coverage must become reality for all Ghanaians, not a

slogan, for every Ghanaian deserves good health and good healthcare. We

need to focus our energies on ensuring access of poor people to decent

housing. We can no longer ignore this basic requirement of social justice.

We have to make the things we use, and grow the foods we eat. We have

to come out of this crisis better, stronger and more united than before.

Ghana, free, united, socially just, self-reliant and productive, that is the

Ghana we are going to create together after we have defeated this virus.

Fellow Ghanaians, ultimately, the Battle is the Lord’s, and, with faith in Him,

we will emerge from this greater than before. We are one people, we are

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Ghanaians, and we stand together in joy and in times of trouble. We are a

people with an exceptional history, and we are the proud promoters of the

Black Star of Africa. We have all gone down together, we should all rise

together. This too shall pass!!

May God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and

strong.

I thank you for your attention and have a good night.

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