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Opinions of Monday, 23 March 2020

Columnist: Kwaku Antwi-Boasiako

Lock down Accra, Tema and Kumasi to stem the spread of coronavirus

The government must lock down Accra, Tema, and Kumasi, for a minimum of three weeks as part of measures to stem the spread of the Coronavirus in Ghana.

Ghana has recorded 24 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of 18:40 GMT on 22nd March 2020.

The 24 confirmed cases have been reported in only the Greater Accra Region and Ashanti Region. While specific locations of the confirmed cases have not yet been disclosed, it is fair to assume most cases would be in the cities of Accra and Kumasi.

The lockdown should affect all socio-economic activities with the exception of pharmacies and the sale of foodstuff. This would mean only pharmacies, shops and markets selling foodstuff would be allowed to open, with strict enforcement of social distancing and hygiene measures.

Government would need to set up an online portal to register one person from each household who would be allowed to go out once a week to purchase foodstuff. If someone needs to purchase medicine or needs emergency medical attention, they would follow existing Ghana Health Service protocols.

The Army would assist the Police and health officials to enforce the lockdown. For the registered family member to go out, they would have to log into the government portal and check against their weekly shopping allocation, failing which they can be arrested for breaching lockdown.

The cities of Accra and Tema (in the Greater Accra Region) and Kumasi (in the Ashanti Region) represent the largest socio-economic centres in those regions with estimated combined population of about 6 million people.

Assuming the 6 million population is made up of 1.2 million households, the government can provide at least GHS1.2 billion (about US$222 million) to provide GHS1,000 for each household for the three-week lockdown to purchase basic food supplies. The money can be credited to the Mobile Money account of the registered family member.

Government and Bank of Ghana should consider adopting Quantitative Easing (QE) to make the GHS1.2 billion (about US$222 million) available to the government to finance the lockdown.

Kwaku Antwi-Boasiako, Accra

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