The first batch of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines is expected to be procured by the government within the first half of this year, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.
The President gave the assurance on Sunday night in a televised address to the nation on the government’s response to the pandemic in the country.
He did not give details on the number of doses to be procured within that period and how they would be administered but expressed confidence that “there is light at the end of the tunnel”
“But, we are not yet out of the woods. So, let us all continue down the path of strict adherence to the protocols. There is nothing beyond us,” he added.
According to the President, the country has not recorded any case of the new variant of COVID-19 and indicated that the government would continue to implement measures to prevent its importation.
“Limiting importation of cases has, thus, been one of our main objectives since the outbreak of the disease in the country. We, in Ghana, have always been concerned about variant strains of the virus coming into the country.
“That is why when we opened our international airport on 1st September, we introduced one of the strictest testing regimes in the world – a two-tier testing system – which indicated that all passengers arriving at Kotoka must be in possession of a negative PCR test result upon their arrival in Ghana, a test which should have been conducted not more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure from the country of origin.
“In addition to this, all passengers were to be subjected to a mandatory COVID-19 test on arrival,” he said.
As of January 1, this year, he said, a total of 712 positive cases, out of 118,278 tests conducted, had been recorded among international arrivals at the Kotoka International Airport.
“Indeed, the month of December alone recorded 387 cases. The positivity rate among international arrivals rose from 0.26 per cent in September to 0.93 per cent in December,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said the developments called for strengthening of the existing protocols to prevent the spread of the disease in the country in light of the new variant of the virus.
He, therefore, announced a number of measures to be implemented in the country in addition to existing guidelines on International Travel for COVID-19.
The new measures require all arriving passengers who test positive for COVID-19, asymptomatic or not, to undergo mandatory isolation and treatment at a designated health facility or isolation centre for a 7-day period at the cost of government.
He said all passengers in isolation would be required to undergo a repeat COVID-19 test within 24 hours of arrival, with the cost also borne by the government. This test will also include genomic sequencing for COVID-19.
The President said passengers who tested negative for COVID-19 would be required to adhere continuously to COVID-19 safety protocols, and receive regular information on COVID-19 within 5 days of arrival in Ghana.
“I want to assure all Ghanaians that the testing regime in place at Kotoka is amongst the strictest in the world, and, as certified by the Food and Drugs Authority, it is capable of detecting this new variant of COVID-19, which is plaguing other nations around the world,” he said.
Following the end of the COVID-19 relief package on December 31 last year, which involved the absorption of electricity and water bills of some Ghanaians, President Akufo-Addo announced a new relief package for over a million low-income earners.
He said active lifeline electricity consumers would continue to benefit from free electricity for the next three months while customers who consume less than 5 cubic metres of water a month would not pay any bills for the same period, he said.
BY YAW KYEI
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