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JUST IN: Akufo-Addo excludes Eastern region from ban on public gatherings

Despite the rising cases of Coronavirus in the Eastern Region, President Nana Akufo-Addo has excluded the region in his latest extension ban on public gatherings including religious activities, marriages ceremonies, birthday parties and funerals by an additional two weeks.

Ghana’s COVID-19 case count has risen to 566. This comes after the Ghana Health Service confirmed 158 new cases, and the Eastern Region now has the third-highest number of confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus, after Greater Accra and Ashanti regions.

The region, which President Akufo-Addo’s home region, has recorded 28 cases of the novel Coronavirus but interestingly, it is not on lockdown to restrict human movements, unlike Accra and Kumasi which were locked down with fewer cases. It is not clear what accounts for the exclusion.

The Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin said the extension takes effect from Monday, 13th April 2020. The announcement posted on his Facebook wall yesterday, did not mention any town in the Eastern Region although Accra, Tema and Kumasi in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions, respectively, were mentioned.

But there are fears among health workers The Herald spoke to that, if the region is not locked down immediately, the situation will escalate. Mention was made of interactions and contacts between traders and buyers in various major markets across the region on different days of the week, and if care was not taken, things could run out of control.

“President Akufo-Addo has signed the Executive Instrument (EI) extending the duration of the restrictions imposed under EI 64 and EI 65. The restrictions imposed on public gatherings, under EI 64, have been extended for a further period of two (2) weeks, with effect from (today) Monday 13th April, 2020,” Eugene Arhin said in the Facebook post yesterday.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on March 15, 2020, in a television broadcast, declared the ban on all public gatherings including conferences, workshops, funerals, festivals, political rallies, church activities and other related events as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus in the country.

At the time, Ghana had recorded six cases of COVID-19. The President in that broadcast gave a caveat that private burials were permitted however mourners present must not exceed 25.

“Private burials are permitted, but with limited numbers, not exceeding twenty-five (25) in attendance,” Akufo-Addo said.

Already, schools have been shut down across the country. Most market places are open however under strict social-distancing protocols and the presence of handwashing facilities.

Some local assemblies have moved in to close markets where traders flout the social distancing directives.

Eugene Arhin reiterated the President’s directive for the restricted movement of persons within Accra, Tema and Kumasi to be extended by an additional week.

“As announced already, the restrictions imposed on the movement of persons in Accra, Tema, Kumasi and Kasoa, under EI 65, have been extended for a further period of one week with effect from Monday…All other provisions, including all exemptions in EI 64, and EI 65, are still in full force and effect,” he said.

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