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Akufo-Addo posts negative test for COVID-19 after Agyeman-Manu falls prey

Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Minister of Health

Following President Akufo-Addo’s confirmation that the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has registered positive in a routine test for the novel coronavirus disease, sources close to the Office of the President at Jubilee House have revealed that all government staff who had immediate contact with the minister have been tested for COVID-19.

The tests were conducted over the past eight days. President Akufo-Addo, First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo, their family and other members of the Akufo-Addo household had samples taken by doctors.

So did government staffers working at Jubilee House and other cabinet ministers with whom Agyeman-Manu may have been in contact. Asaase Radio can report that the president and all of his immediate staff and family came out negative.

Since the Health Minister was found to be COVID-19-positive late last week, Ghana Health Service officials have carried out a detailed programme of contact tracing among his colleagues and associates.

Among those tested are the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Agriculture, Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, the Minister of Local Government, Hajia Alima Mahama, Deputy Finance Minister Charles Adu Boahen and Elizabeth Ohene, the leading journalist and former minister of state in charge of tertiary education.

Agyeman-Manu’s wife and son tested negative for the infection. Starr FM reported earlier that Mrs Agyeman-Manu had contracted the virus. Matters were complicated by reports from Afia Pokua of UTV fame (Vim Lady) that the minister had told her that he was not ill, but recovering from exhaustion at the University of Ghana Medical Centre.

K K Sam falls

Wishing the Minister of Health speedy recovery in his address on the coronavirus to the nation tonight, President Akufo-Addo also paid glowing tribute to Anthony Kobina Kurentsir Sam, the Mayor of Sekondi-Takoradi, who died from COVID-19-related causes on 12 June.

“Permit me to pay brief tribute to the memory of an old and valiant colleague in the struggle of the New Patriotic Party and in the work of the Akufo-Addo government – the Mayor of Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis, the chief executive of the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly, Honourable K K Sam (Egya Sam to me and many), whose efforts in enforcing social distancing protocols at the Sekondi and Takoradi markets were recently highly commended by me, and who sadly passed away on Friday as a result of a COVID-related death.”

The president once again spoke out against stigmatisation of COVID-19 sufferers. “I remain concerned about the stigma associated with this disease. Stories of persons who have recovered from this disease, and been shunned by their own relatives and communities, are a source of considerable worry to me, because they undermine our efforts to fight it.

“There is nothing shameful about testing positive. We do not have to lose our sense of community because of this pandemic.”

Survival in our hands

In tonight’s speech, his eleventh on COVID-19 since Ghana recorded her first two cases on 12 March 2020, President Akufo-Addo declared wearing masks mandatory. It is now an offence for any Ghanaian to leave his or her home without one.

“Leaving our homes without a face mask or face covering on is an offence. The police have been instructed to enforce this directive, which is the subject of an executive instrument,” the president said.

“Let me repeat: our survival is in our own hands. If we are lax and inattentive, we will continue to have serious challenges with the virus. If we are mindful and self-disciplined, we have it in us to defeat this pandemic and help return our lives to normalcy.”

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President Akufo-Addo said the government’s enhanced contact tracing programme is leading to the early detection of COVID-19 cases, isolation of those affected and their treatment.

He announced that there are now 11,964 confirmed cases of the disease in Ghana. Six of the people involved in these cases are in critical condition, with three of them on ventilators. Thirteen of the cases are classified as severe. The number of active cases is 7,652 and that of recoveries 4,258.

“The increase in numbers indicates that the virus has spread and continues to spread. We have to bear in mind at all times that the more people we test for the virus, the more people we are likely to discover as positive, and thus have the opportunity to isolate and treat them,” the president said.

“If we do not test people for the virus, we will not find the persons who are positive, let alone isolate them from the population and treat them, and prevent them from spreading the virus.

“The total number of tests that we have conducted in Ghana, with a population of 31 million – 254,331 – is one of the highest on the African continent. Furthermore, many countries in the world, including several of the developed economies, are not implementing a policy of enhanced contact tracing, and this makes our data qualitatively different and more effective in the fight against COVID-19.

“Indeed, the success of our tracing, testing and treating will lead, in the end, to a reduction in the number of cases. That is what we are working for,” he said.

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* Watch a recording of the president’s eleventh speech on COVID-19 here.

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