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Sammy Gyamfi’s address at the NDC’s Weekly Press Briefing on Ghana’s Covid-19 fight

Good morning distinguished friends from the media. Once again, I welcome you with gratitude to the Headquarters of the National Democratic Congress, as we continue to engage you on vital policy issues and other critical national conversations that border on the well-being of Ghanaians, as well as the development and forward-match of our dear Republic.

Today, we have invited you here to discuss the precarious COVID-19 situation that our nation presently finds itself in; where this all started and how we have arrived at this present juncture.

Indeed, our present COVID-19 situation, which clearly is getting worse by the day, calls for a deep and candid introspection and soul-searching by the nation. To do this, we must ask ourselves; What is Ghana’s current COVID-19 situation? Where are we now in the COVID-19 fight? Are we winning the fight? or is the deadly virus triumphing over us? And we intend to be honest and objective about these basic questions this morning.

Friends of the media, without mincing any words or making bones about this indisputable fact, Ghana is fast-losing the COVID-19 fight, due to the careless and directionless leadership of President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo. And, I shall outline ten (10) facts that accurately describe our current COVID-19 situation and bear out this assertion.

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, as we speak:

  1. Ghana has recorded over 24,000 positive cases with 139 deaths, whiles the insensitive and inept Akufo Addo-government looks on helplessly.

Our astronomically high and ever-increasing positive case count is putting huge pressure on the already-constrained health system of the country. Indeed, many health facilities across the country, including the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital have been compelled to suspend other critical emergency health services due to the overwhelming cases of Coronavirus on their hands.

  1. Another fact that lays credence to the assertion that our COVID-19 fight is failing is that, the long-standing problem of lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our patriotic and hardworking health workers, who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, has not been addressed by President Akufo Addo and his government contrary to the countless and persistent assurances we have been given.

This has occasioned an alarming rate of COVID-19 infections among health workers, leading to the loss of several precious lives, including some renowned health experts. So far, over 779 health workers made up of 190 doctors, 410 nurses and midwives, 23 hospital pharmacists and 156 allied health workers, have caught the virus, with 10 deaths, while the insensitive Akufo Addo-government continues to pay lip service to this critical issue. This is sad and completely unacceptable.

  1. Also, the alarming COVID-19 infections among top NPP/government officials, some of whom have died, doesn’t inspire any confidence in the ordinary man on the street, that this fight is anywhere near being won.

As you may be aware, our Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Forestry Commission CEO, Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie (may God bless his soul), the late Takoradi Mayor, another sad casualty, K.K Sam, the BOST MD, the NHIA Director-General and her Deputies, the Minister of Regional Re-organization, Dan Botwe, the Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, The Ghana Education Service (GES) Director-General, the former deputy minister of Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah and the Volta Regional Minister, Archibald Yao Letsa, are but a few of the bigwigs on the tall list of Government Officials who have either battled, are battling or succumbed to COVID-19 in the last few months. This phenomenon clearly bears out our worsening COVID-19 situation.

  1. Again, the rising phenomenon of the shutdown of key state institutions such as COCOBOD, GNPC, BOST, NHIA, Ministry of Finance, the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Education, the National Health Insurance Authority among several others, further accentuates the alarming rate of community spread of the novel coronavirus in the country and terrifying situation we presently find ourselves in.

Only God knows which other state institution is playing host to this deadly virus, and whether at this rate, the entire government machinery will not be brought down on its knees in the coming weeks.

  1. Furthermore, the significant reduction of testing and contact tracing being spearheaded by the failed Akufo Addo-government, is a major setback to our COVID-19 fight. Government’s refusal to pay contact tracers their meagre motivational allowances, despite Parliament making financial provision for same, has led to the complete abandonment of contact tracing, thereby letting loose the ravaging virus in our communities.

Also, our severely constrained testing capacity and shortage of test reagents and other vital supplies, which accounts for the huge backlog of samples waiting to be tested at both the Noguchi Center for Medical Research and the Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research (KCCR), is further exacerbating our failing fight against the virus.

  1. Additionally, the lack of isolation facilities to contain our positive cases is very worrying. Currently, most of our hospitals and health facilities are full and overstretched, leading to the suspension of other critical emergency health services, while our ICUs are also getting full.

This situation that has led to an increase in self-isolation of positive cases is undermining our COVID-19 fight, as the evidence on voluntary self-isolation, show relatively low compliance to safety protocols as compared to mandatory isolation.

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