Ghana is to close all its borders from midnight on Sunday, March 22 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The border closure is to last for two weeks according to President Nana Akufo-Addo and “will not apply to goods, supplies and cargo.”
“All our borders; by land, sea and air, will be closed to human traffic for the next two weeks beginning midnight on Sunday,” he said in an address to the Nation on Saturday evening.
President Akufo-Addo said the government’s aim with all its measures are to “limit and stop the importation of the virus; contain its spread; provide adequate care for the sick; limit the impact of the virus on social and economic life and inspire the expansion of our domestic capability and deepen our self-reliance.”
Following restrictions from recently reviewed travel protocols, the only admissible travellers into Ghana were Ghanaians and foreign nationals with residence permits in Ghana.
But ahead of the closure, this category of travellers will be subject to a mandatory quarantine.
Ghana announced new travel protocols when the detected cases stood at seven.
Travellers who had been in coronavirus-hit countries with cases exceeding 200 within the 14 days preceding their arrival were to be barred from entering the country.
The admissible travellers who exhibit symptoms of the novel coronavirus are to be quarantined and tested upon reaching Ghana.
The government said airlines had been instructed not to allow such persons into the country.
It also said travel to Ghana was strongly discouraged.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Ghana currently stand at 21.
More than 287,239 people have been infected worldwide with over 11,921 deaths.
The growing spread of the coronavirus pandemic on the continent has compelled a significant number of other African countries to tighten border controls with travel restrictions.
Some, like Ghana, have decided to completely seal their borders for a period.
South Africa, one of Africa’s hardest-hit countries, barred entry to foreign travellers arriving from or transiting through high-risk countries, including Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, the US, the UK and China.
But a country like Egypt suspended all air traffic at its airports from March 19 until March 31.
Find below the full statement by the President
Fellow Ghanaians, good evening. This is the third time in the last ten (10) days that I have come into your homes to give you an update on the progress of our fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. I am going to be providing you regular updates.
On Sunday, 15th March, I briefed you about the enhanced measures taken by Government to deal with the virus, which has, so far, infected nineteen persons (19) in the country. Unfortunately, one (1) person, who tested positive for the virus, but had serious underlying health complications, passed away in the early hours of today. I am reliably informed that all the other eighteen (18) persons are doing well, and are responding to treatment. Indeed, eight (8) of them are being managed from their homes, in isolation.
I am deeply humbled by the widespread nature of the support from you, the Ghanaian people, for the measures I have taken so far. Let me also commend both sides of Parliament for the expeditious and responsible manner in which they handled the passage of the Imposition of Restrictions Act, to which I have given assent.
This morning, I chaired the daily Inter-Ministerial Committee Meeting on our Coronavirus Response to review the current position. I am encouraged by the numbers of Ghanaians that are observing the prescribed social distancing and enhanced hygiene protocols announced earlier. However, it has become necessary to take additional measures to stem the spread of the virus, and protect the lives of our people. We must do everything within our power to contain the spread of the virus.
Firstly, all our borders, that is by land, sea and air, will be closed to human traffic for the next two weeks, beginning midnight on Sunday. Anybody who comes into the country, before midnight on Sunday, will be mandatorily quarantined and tested for the virus. This closure will not apply to goods, supplies and cargo.
Secondly, the Ministry of Health will not only step up its contact tracing efforts, but will also see to it that all persons who have been identified as having come into contact with infected persons are tested for the virus. More personal protection equipment are being procured to beef up supplies for our frontline health workers. Fifty thousand additional test kits have been ordered, and are expected in the country very shortly.
Thirdly, the Ministry of Health is mobilising new and retired healthcare professionals to augment our preparedness in dealing with a possible surge in infections. It is heartening to hear of the numbers of retired healthcare professionals who have stepped forward to offer their services, just as it is to note the Ghanaian entrepreneurs who have responded to this crisis by producing greater quantities of sanitisers and ‘Veronica buckets’. Let me reiterate my appeal to members of the pharmaceutical industry to scale up their domestic production of pharmaceutical products. Government will do its best to support them.
As I have stated before, there will be a constant review of the measures announced, and, if necessary, enhanced.
Fellow Ghanaians, the cases of localised infections require that we maintain strict self-discipline, and continue to practice prescribed social distancing and enhanced hygiene protocols in all aspects of our daily lives. We must wash our hands regularly, use alcohol-based sanitisers, stop shaking hands, and avoid unnecessary close body contact. I am pleading with each and every one of you, comply with these measures. Our survival is in our own hands.
Whilst we continue to adhere to these measures, and ramp up our efforts to defeat this virus, I urge all of us, also, to seek the face of the Almighty. So, on Wednesday, 25th March, 2020, I appeal to all Ghanaians, Christians and Muslims, to observe a national day of fasting and prayer. Let us pray to God to protect our nation and save us from this pandemic. I thank the men and women of God who prayed for the nation with me on Thursday, and with the Vice President on Friday, for their intervention.
I applaud the efforts and courage of Ghanaians in the forefront of the fight against the virus – health workers, immigration officials, customs officials, civil aviation officials, airport staff, port health officials, police and military personnel, and other essential service providers – for the yeoman’s work you are doing. Our nation is deeply in your debt.
Fellow Ghanaians, all that Government is doing is intended to achieve five (5) key objectives – limit and stop the importation of the virus; contain its spread; provide adequate care for the sick; limit the impact of the virus on social and economic life; and inspire the expansion of our domestic capability and deepen our self-reliance.
There are obvious difficulties ahead of us, and we should all brace ourselves to face them. I will be transparent with you, and not shirk from sharing with you the realities of our situation. But, I am determined to take whatever steps are necessary to safeguard our society, our economy and our future. I remain confident that together, and by the Grace of God, we shall overcome. This, too, will pass.
May God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make us great and strong.
Have a good night, and I thank you for your attention.