Wear a mask or pay the penalty

Wearing a face mask is now mandatory – leaving home without one an offence, Akufo-Addo announces in his eleventh coronavirus speech to Ghanaians

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced that wearing masks is now mandatory and that it is an offence for any Ghanaian to leave his or her home without one.

The president made this disclosure as he delivered his eleventh address on the novel coronavirus to the nation since Ghana recorded her first two cases of the disease (also known as COVID-19) on Wednesday 12 March 2020.

“With the doctors and scientists telling us that the virus is transmitted from human contact, through talking, singing, coughing and sneezing, which results in sending droplets of the virus from one person to another, residents of these four regions [Greater Accra and Ashanti, where the largest numbers of COVID-19 cases have been recorded, and in Central and Western, which have become hot spots for the disease] and, indeed, all Ghanaians, must remember that the wearing of masks is now mandatory.

“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,” President Akufo-Addo announced.

Mindful discipline

“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,” the president said.

President Akufo-Addo once again appealed to all Ghanaians for their help as he leads the country in the fight to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

This is the surest path towards “realising the collective vision of building a new Ghanaian civilisation where the rule of law is not a slogan, but a directive principle of state development”.

“Let us, together, rise to the occasion and fulfil our common destiny. We can do it,” President Akufo-Addo assured his fellow countrymen.

Rising case count

With regard to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Ghana, President Akufo-Addo reiterated that it is the government’s enhanced contact tracing policy that is resulting in the early detection of COVID-19 cases, isolation of those affected and their subsequent treatment.

Officials have recorded 542 more cases of the disease than in the last count.

“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.

“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,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“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,” the president said.

He noted further: “As at midnight of 13 June, the total number of positives, cumulatively, stands at 11,964, out of the 254,331 tests conducted.” Ghana has 4,258 patients who have recovered fully and are now free from the virus, he said.

“So our scrutiny, in effect, must be on the number of active cases: that is, people who remain on our books as still positive. Hence, as things stand now, the total number of people with the virus – that is, active cases from our tests – is 7,652.

“Our positivity rate – that is, the ratio of positive cases to total tests conducted – stands at 4.7%.”

Deaths and the Health Minister

At the end of his address, President Akufo-Addo paid glowing tribute to individuals who have died from COVID-19. He also wished the Minister of Health a speedy recovery from the coronavirus.

“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.

“Let us also wish our hard-working Minister for Health, Honourable Kwaku Agyeman Manu, MP for Dormaa Central, a speedy recovery from the virus, which he contracted in the line of duty, and who is in a stable condition,” the president said.

Asaase Radio 99.5 FM. Launches today, 14 June. Tune in or log on to live streaming.

* Twitter: @asaaseradio995

* Watch a recording of President Akufo-Addo’s speech here.

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