Ghana’s President, Akufo-Addo, has banned the country’s public officials from foreign travels as the deadly coronavirus scourge continues to spread.
Formerly known as coronavirus, Covid-19 has infected more than 115,800 persons, killing over 4,200 worldwide.
While the number of new cases in China – the epicenter of the outbreak – slowed down tremendously, the scourge is now gaining pace around the world with cases confirmed in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Senegal, and Nigeria.
Daily Mail Gh, a Ghanaian news portal, citing a statement signed and issued by Ghana’s Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, said the ban will not affect “critical travels”.
“The directive, together with other measures being put in place by Government, is intended to protect the general public from contracting the virus. Please take note and ensure compliance,” the statement addressed to all heads of public institutions said.
The temporary travel ban comes days after Akufo-Addo called for greater care, advising Ghanaians against shaking hands.
Ghana has already begun establishing “isolation and treatment” centers for potential cases. The government has also procured some 5000 personal protective equipment for health workers in anticipation of the arrival of potential cases.
“In the interim, non-essential travel into Ghana is being strongly discouraged from high-risk countries, namely, China, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea.
“We are counting on the experts to do their part to safeguard us, but we all have a responsibility to take measures to help ourselves and each other,” Akufo-Addo stated during the celebration of Ghana’s 63rd Independence Day celebration on Friday, March 6, 2020.
“The recommendations are for each one of us to practice basic, personal hygiene and be extra careful with sanitation. For the time being, as the Ministry of Health has advised, we have to revisit our custom of shaking hands and stop doing so completely, and we must cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze,” he added.
Joining Ghana to suspend foreign travels for public officials is Gabon. Gabonese MPs, BBC reports had also been temporarily barred from traveling as part of efforts to avoid the importation of the virus.
In a memo sent to legislators, the parliamentary speaker Faustin Boukoubi said all travel on behalf of the assembly had been suspended until further notice.
Gabon’s neighbor Cameroon has two recorded cases of the virus, Libreville closed their common border over the weekend as a precautionary measure, reports Africa News.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, six new coronavirus cases have been confirmed bringing the total in the country to 13.
According to local news site News24, the new cases are in the provinces of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and Western Cape and involve people who have recently returned from other countries.
“Those who are symptomatic have started receiving treatment. Some of these patients are already in hospital while some, specifically those who are asymptomatic, are in self-quarantine. Contact tracing has also started for all these cases,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize is quoted as saying.
In the meantime, a plane has left South Africa headed to China’s coronavirus epicenter of Wuhan to repatriate more than 120 citizens stranded there.
“Go with speed, with God and bring our children back home,” President Cyril Ramaphosa instructed.