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General News of Friday, 24 April 2020

Source: GNA

ECOWAS should create country-specific Coronavirus measures - Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Addo during virtual ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit President Akufo-Addo during virtual ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Thursday urged ECOWAS member states to create country-specific COVID-19 measures, and not imitate the methods being adopted by other nations.

“I think it’s very, very important that we tailor a specific Ghanaian, African response to the handling of this pandemic, and not necessarily copy blindly the methods that are being adopted by countries to the north of us and elsewhere,” he said.

The President made the recommendation when he joined his West African counterparts for a virtual ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit on the coronavirus pandemic.

He told the Assembly that Ghana's approach to dealing with the pandemic was hinged on mobilising the social forces, taking actions based on science and data, leveraging on others’ experience and pushing the agenda of a Ghana beyond Aid.

President Akufo-Addo told his colleagues that Ghana's first line of action was to close its borders as all the cases in the country had been brought in from travellers coming from where the disease was prevalent.

He, thus, called on West African leaders to enforce the closure of their respective borders to prevent illegal crossings to contain the pandemic.

Ghana, the President informed the Summit, had adopted an aggressive tracing and testing regime, which had resulted in more than 85,000 persons being tested to date.

“So far, more than 85,000 Ghanaians have been tested. We are looking to test as much as 100,000,” he said.

"This has enabled us to get a hang of the geographic footprint of the virus, of identifying the epicentres of our country, and also better understanding the dynamics of the virus, while we are treating and isolating infected cases.”

Also, all public gatherings had been banned, and the observance of hygiene protocols were being encouraged to stop community spread of the virus, the President said.

“We are encouraging the hygiene protocols – the washing of hands, the social distancing and also wearing face masks. Happily for us, under the present circumstances, our infection rate continues to be 1.5 per cent of the screened population, and it has remained at this figure for some time. We are encouraged that, hopefully, we will see to its reduction.”

President Akufo-Addo also informed the Summit that the country had adopted specific measures, including the provision of free water and subsidising electricity to limit the impact of the virus on the economic and social life of Ghanaians.

He said the pandemic had provided the country to ramp up the domestic production of medical material, protective equipment as well as medicines, sanitizers and other ancillary health logistics.

"We believe that with their sufficient support and inspiration from government, domestic manufacturers and local enterprises are capable of rising to the challenge to find the opportunity to meet our needs from Ghana.”

The President also spoke about the need for Africa to come up with a vaccine to deal with the disease, saying; “We want to get to the point where we can have an African vaccine to deal with the problem because the mutation of the virus is different, so we need to have our own way of dealing with it.”

He was happy to note that the Regional agenda for a monetary union was being pursued vigorously.

“I am also happy to hear that the Convergence Council is going to meet very soon to see where we are in terms of the developments that have taken place, and the impact that they have on our goals of monetary union.”

President Akufo-Addo lauded efforts being undertaken by Ghana and South Africa’s ministers of finance to negotiate with the World Bank a debt standstill for African countries.

“In the case of Ghana that debt standstill means $500 million in interests and principles this year. We need to go beyond the debt standstill, we need actual debt relief.”

"Therefore, the efforts that are being made should get the wholehearted support of all of us. I believe that the issue of debt relief should not just stay at public debt. The private debts also should be looked at,” he said.

The President stressed the need for collaboration and solidarity between the countries to surmount the challenges that the times had brought.

“We are in new territories, these are extraordinary times, and it requires a unique level of solidarity amongst ourselves to be able to find lasting solutions,” he told his counterparts.