President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced that Covid-19 vaccines are expected in Ghana by March this year.
He made the announcement in his 23rd address to the nation on COVID-19 status and measures to combat it.
The President said government aims to vaccinate the entire population, starting with a targeted 20 million people, explaining that through bilateral and multilateral collaboration, some 17.6 million people are expected to have been vaccinated by June, [but] “the earliest vaccine will be in the country by March.”
He assured Ghanaians that government will go to every extent to ensure the safety of the vaccines to be used in Ghana, saying the Food and Drugs Authority will use its established processes for granting emergency use authorization for each vaccine in Ghana.
“As President…I assure you that only vaccines that have been evaluated and declared as safe-for-use in Ghana will be administered,” President Akufo-Addo said.
The president noted that over the past two weeks, things have gotten worse, with active cases increasing from 1,900 to 5,358, critical and severe cases reaching 172, deaths increasing by 64 to reach 416, and daily case count rising from 200 to 700.
The President noted that most of the cases were found to have occurred in enclosed places were people were speaking or singing.
He has therefore placed a ban on a number of social gathering, saying “So, fellow Ghanaians, until further notice, funerals, weddings, concerts, theatrical performances and parties are banned,” he said.
He added that private burials with no more than 25 people can take place with the enforcement of the social distancing, hygiene and mask wearing protocols.
The President also said outdoor sports activities are allowed with up to 25 per cent of spectator sitting capacity.
He also called on both public and private organizations to revert to shift system at the workplace and almost resort to working virtually more than physically.
It would be recalled that a number of professional bodies, pressure groups and individual experts have been calling for a ban on social gathering amid the increasing Covid-19 cases over the last two weeks.
Ghana Medical Association for instance, threatened to lay down their tool if government does not ban social gathering with immediate effect.
Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo urged religious leaders to ensure strict adherence to protocols regarding their activities, saying “I entreat you to enforce to the letter, the protocols relating to attendance, i.e. the two-hour duration, one-meter social distancing, mask wearing, use of sanitizers, and the presence of Veronica buckets, liquid soap and rolls of tissue paper.”
He also urged restaurants to return to packaging food for takeaway and stop all sit in activities.
The President said workshops and conferences are still allowed but under very strict Covid-19 protocol, adding that since the reopening of schools, there have been very few cases recorded in schools, so schools will also continue to be in session but under very strict protocols.
“I appeal to school authorities and teachers to enforce the guidelines provided by the Ghana Education Service and I urge the Ghana Health Service to continue their surveillance at the schools, so we can contain any reported cases,” he said.