Sunday, June 28, 2020, saw the president’s 13th address to the nation.
The address came on the eve of the resumption of formal academic work by final-year Junior High School (JHS) pupils; they are going back to the classroom to complete their academic work and eventually write the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
President Akufo-Addo in this address announced the distribution of face masks, Veronica buckets, hand sanitizers, and PPEs among others, to schools across the country to help protect teachers, non-teaching staff and students.
He also announced that his government has absorbed the WASSCE fees for all final-year Senior High School (SHS) students who are about to write the 2020 WASSCE.
Below are some 13 points from the president’s address:
1. Reopening of schools to JHS pupils
From Monday, June 29, 2020, final-year pupils in 17,439 schools across the country are expected to return to school to prepare and sit for the 2020 BECE. The pupils are to be in school for 11 weeks of preparation and revision before spending the following week to take the BECE.
“They will be the final, and, indeed, the largest batch of students to return to school. In all, we are expecting some 750,000 persons, comprising 532,000 JHS 3 students and 218,000 teaching and non-teaching staff and invigilators to be involved.”
He indicated there will be no more than 30 students in a class also there will be reduced school days with students reporting to school at 9 am and closing at 1 pm.
2. Govt won’t endanger the lives of JHS pupils, staff
The president asked parents and guardians to be calm over the reopening of schools for JHS pupils amidst the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
“I assure all parents and guardians that the Government will not put the lives of 750,000 students, teachers and non-teaching staff, who will be returning to school at risk. We have made all the required provisions to protect them whilst in school. It bears repeating, however, that they must all adhere strictly to enhanced personal hygiene and social distancing protocols, regularly wash their hands with soap under running water, refrain from shaking hands and hugging, and wear masks to protect themselves and others. Our survival, I repeat, is in our own hands, and, together, we can defeat this virus.”
3. Safety measures put in place for JHS pupils
Government has announced some safety measures put in place for the JHS pupils as they resume academic work from Monday, June 29, 2020.
According to President Akufo-Addo, all Junior High Schools across the country have been fumigated and disinfected.
Government has also procured and distributed 45,000 Veronica buckets; 90,000 gallons of liquid soap; 90,000 rolls of tissue paper; 40,000 thermometer guns and 750,000 pieces of 200-millilitre hand sanitizers to the schools.
2.2 million reusable face masks are also to be distributed, three per person; are all steps taken to guarantee the safety of the students, teaching and non-teaching staff.
Each JHS pupil, as well as the teaching and non-teaching staff, will receive three reusable face masks to protect them from the novel Coronavirus.
4. Ghana records 17,351 COVID-19 cases
President Akufo-Addo announced that Ghana’s total confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus has risen to 17,351 with 12,994 recoveries. This represents 75% of positives.
The total number of active cases is 4,245 with 112 deaths. “This represents 0.6% of positives and it is one of the lowest death rates in the world.”
The president said that 294,867 tests have been conducted so far and it is the highest on the African continent.
5. 30 in critical conditions
There are now 30 patients currently in critical condition at the various COVID-19 treatment centres in the country.
6. 83% of critically ill Coronavirus patients have fully recovered
44 out of the 53 persons with the novel virus and were critically ill have fully recovered.
“Most patients who are critically ill and need intensive care, do, indeed, survive the virus, if they seek medical help promptly. For example, out of 53 patients admitted into intensive care units (ICU) at the Ga East Municipal Hospital and the University of Ghana Medical Centre, since the pandemic struck, 44, i.e. 83%, have fully recovered, and have been discharged.”
7. Ghanaians not taking COVID-19 seriously
President Akufo-Addo expressed worry at the rate some Ghanaians are too complacent and not taking the deadly virus seriously.
According to him, the Ghana Health Service has observed that patients who have died as a result of contracting the novel virus died either on arrival at the hospital or within 48-hours after arrival.
“Unfortunately, we still have some persons in the country who are not taking the dangers associated with this disease seriously, and, therefore, do not seek medical help as soon as they have symptoms that suggest an infection…
“There should be no fear of stigmatization or embarrassment with being diagnosed with COVID-19. So, please, when you begin to experience symptoms such as fever, persistent cough, bodily pains, loss of taste and smell, and difficulty in breathing, seek immediate medical attention at the nearest health facility,” he said.
8. Extension of incentive packages for frontline health workers
President Akufo-Addo announced incentive packages for frontline health workers.
He explained that all health workers will still pay no income taxes for July, August and September.
“Again, all frontline health workers, as defined by the Ministry of Health, will continue to receive the additional allowance of 50% of their basic salary per month, i.e. for July, August and September.
“Whilst we appreciate the efforts of our health workers, I continue to urge them to remain professional and compassionate. Every avoidable death, be it corona-related or not, is a tragedy.”
9. Akufo-Addo lauds support from religious leaders
The contributions by the various religious leaders were recognized by the President Akufo-Addo during his address.
President Akufo-Addo said even though most of them have concerns regarding the safety protocols and guidelines, he “will continue to engage with them and other stakeholders, in our efforts to defeat the virus.”
10. Adhere to safety protocols at all times
The president urged Ghanaians to adhere to the COVID-19 safety protocols at all times to protect their lives and prevent the health facilities being overburdened.
“Let us wash our hands with soap under running water, use alcohol-based sanitizers, maintain the protocols on social distancing, avoid person-to-person contact, eat our local foods that boost our immune systems, and, yes, wear masks at all times when we leave our homes.
“These are the weapons of our battle. We must keep our guard up at all times, and see to it that sooner, rather than later, COVID-19 becomes nothing but a blip on our forward march to sustained development, progress and prosperity,” President Akufo-Addo said.
11. Let’s “keep our guard up”
President Akufo-Addo said Ghanaians should at all times “keep our guard up” and see to it that sooner, rather than later, COVID-19 becomes not but a blip in the country’s forward march in sustaining development, progress and prosperity.
“As we cross the halfway point of 2020, arguably one of the most difficult years in recent memory, I continue to feel a sense of gratitude, determination and faith.”
12. Akufo-Addo thank Ghanaians for showing selflessness in difficult times
“Determination in my work for all of you, bringing Ghana through this crisis and beyond, and making sure we come out of this stronger than ever before; and Faith in the One true God who orders our every step,” Akufo-Addo said.
13. This too shall pass
President Akufo-Addo has reiterated his calls that the Coronavirus pandemic facing the country and the world at large shall surely come to pass because the battle is in hand of the Almighty God and “with him by our side, we fear nothing but his judgement and need nothing but his grace”.