Ghana President Lifts Lockdown on Improved Virus Preparedness

Ghana is lifting a 21-day lockdown of its biggest cities after the restrictions bought the government enough time to improve its preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic, said President Nana Akufo-Addo.

Residents of the capital, Accra, and major centers will be allowed to return to work from Monday even though other restrictions such as school closures and a ban on sport and religious meetings remain in place, Akufo-Addo said Sunday in a televised address.

Ghana has spent the three-week lockdown to conduct more than 68,000 tests and draw-up plans to establish testing centers in all of its 16 regions, Akufo-Addo said. Local factories commenced the production of protective equipment while drone services are used to speed-up the transportation of tests, he said.

Confirmed cases reached 1,042 with nine deaths, while the results of 18,000 testing samples remain outstanding.

“Lifting these restrictions doesn’t mean we are letting our guard down,” said Akufo-Addo. “We’ll tailor our solution to our unique social economic and cultural condition. There’s no one-size fits all approach”.

The pandemic has brought three years of economic expansion of 6% or more to a sudden halt in the nation of 30 million people, with the finance ministry forecasting growth of 1.5%, the slowest in 37 years.

The International Monetary Fund last week disbursed $1 billion to Ghana to fight the outbreak and help mitigate economic losses.