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General News of Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Source: The Herald

Govt divides GMA leadership in COVID-19 fight


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The leadership of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) appears to be in disarray over government’s handling of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic with the President of the association, Dr. Frank Ankobea, and his vice, Dr. Frank Serebour, giving conflicting positions.

On Tuesday, April 14, 2020, Dr. Frank Serebour, called on government to impose a nationwide total lockdown to fully tackle the spread of coronavirus in the country which at the time was 636.

Dr. Serebour, had in an interview with Kwame Adinkrah on ‘Pure Morning Drive’ said “I think the conversation should shift to the point that now we need to be tackling the whole country in general. Whether there are recorded cases or not. I think the whole country would have to come under some degree of restriction. It shouldn’t be limited to Accra and Kumasi. This is what we requested for some weeks ago and people started calling us all sort of names”.

Reacting to the lockdown in the country ‘I don’t call this a lockdown, honestly. What we’re experiencing is restriction. Even this restriction is very lax. This fuse into our earlier call. When we first brought it up, some wise people said we were not wise enough to request for a lockdown. Kwame, you can tell that as we speak now, all the other regions have recorded cases including my hometown- Bekwai. Therefore, it is important to consider restrictions in the whole country’

Interestingly, with 1,042 cases, 99 recoveries and 9 deaths as of April 20, 2020, the same association through its President, Dr. Ankobea has pledged its unflinching support to the government in the ongoing national fight against the novel Coronavirus, even though the lockdown they advocated some 21 days ago, has been lifted by President Nana Akufo-Addo.

The GMA President made the pledge when the Executive Committee of the GMA met with President Akufo-Addo at the Jubilee House yesterday at the President invitation to pick their thoughts and concerns over government’s approach to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a brief remark, Dr. Ankobea, observed that the association recognises the difficult situation the country finds itself in but remains loyal and fully committed to the national agenda to trace, test and treat COVID-19 patients as well as to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

“We are so happy that you invited us this morning to discuss the pertinent issues. All we need to do is to pledge our support to government that we are going to continue with you, we are going to fight till this virus is eliminated from Ghana,” the GMA President, Dr Ankobea said who owns and runs his private clinic in Kumasi.

President Akufo-Addo in his remarks noted that his administration was compelled to lift the restriction on movement in Greater Accra, Kasoa and Greater Kumasi because consistently, test results over the last three weeks have remained constant in terms of infection rate, death rate, persons who are moderately ill, amongst others.

“It is that constancy, that robustness of the data that we have in Ghana, that is inspiring our decisions,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“As President of this country, I cannot also ignore the impact that this lockdown is having on several constituencies of our country, specifically those who are a very important part of the Ghanaian equation, the people who live, if you like, ‘hand-to-mouth,’ informal workers who need to have a day out in the market one form or the other for their families, who are having a lot of difficulty,” President Akufo-Addo added.

Few weeks ago, GMA had been in the forefront called on government to lockdown some parts of the country and restrict movement after recording COVID 19 cases.

Despite the restrictions in the country, Dr. Serebour, was at the time of the view that President Akufo-Addo opened a window opportunity for persons to flee taking into account the grace period given ‘them in preparation for the lockdown’.

“What really went wrong under the lockdown was that window opportunity people had to flee from their various regions to other regions. And we are compounding that problem with the food sharing exercise. It is better we didn’t have it ”, he said.

The Progressive People’s Party(PPP) and the Bureau of Public Safety has also called on the government to declare a nationwide lockdown to help deal with COVID-19.

That, they explain, is because of the way and manner COVID-19 was spreading at breakneck speed, creating a severe public health emergency and its potential negative impact on families and businesses.

On Monday, 20th April, 2020, the President also met the leadership of the Trades Union Congress at Jubilee House, the seat of the nation’s presidency, to brief them of the factors that led to the decision to lift the partial lockdown on Accra, Kasoa, Kumasi and Tema.

He elicited their continuous support for the fight to defeat the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.

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