President re-opens Kotoka; harbours/land borders still closed

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced that from tomorrow, Tuesday, September 1, the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) will re-open and resume operations.

But the country’s borders by land and sea remain closed until further notice.

He announced this yesterday in his 16th update on Ghana’s enhanced response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Fellow Ghanaians, in Update No.15, I announced the easing of restrictions in some areas of national life. I also indicated my hope that preparations and simulation exercises underway, including the installation of COVID-19 testing facilities at Kotoka International Airport, would give us a clear indication as to whether or not we could re-open the airport on 1st September. After weeks of thorough work, I am satisfied that it is safe to do so,” the President said.

He added that the decision to re-open Ghana’s international airport has been communicated to international airlines.

Safety measures

According to the President with “the commitment to ensuring that the gradual easing of restrictions, including the re-opening of our airports, does not lead to the importation or resurgence of the virus into our country,” measures have been taken and duly communicated to airlines wishing to resume flights to Ghana.

The measures include ensuring that any passenger arriving in Ghana is in possession of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from an accredited laboratory in the country of origin. “The test should have been done not more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure from the country of origin. All airlines have been instructed to ensure compliance with this directive for all passengers wishing to travel to Ghana, and those airlines who fail in this regard will be duly sanctioned,” the President stated.

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He added that disembarking passengers must wear face masks before landing, adding that each passenger will undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test at the airport terminal, at a fee to be borne by the passenger. The test result will be available within 30 minutes.

He added:  “The Ministries of Information, Health and Aviation, and their respective agencies – the Ghana Health Service, the Ghana Airports Co. Ltd., and the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority – will spell out in further detail the protocols surrounding the re-opening of our international airport, and the procedures to be adhered to by passengers arriving in Ghana at the COVID-19 media briefing.”

Reopening of schools

Addressing the issue of re-opening of schools, the President said with continuing students of some tertiary institutions and colleges returning to school, almost a week ago, to finish their academic year, the Ghana Education Service, in consultation with the relevant stakeholders, has decided that from October 5 to December 14, 2020, SHS 2 and JHS 2 students can return to school to complete their academic year.

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“With Junior High Schools operating with class sizes of thirty (30), and Senior High Schools with class sizes of twenty-five (25), SHS 2 and JHS 2 students will be in school for ten (10) weeks to study, and write their end of term examinations. SHS 2 students in boarding houses are to return to their various dormitories on 5th October, whilst day students, respecting fully the COVID-19 protocols, will commute from home to their respective schools on the same date,” the President said.

He gave the assurance that before the re-opening, all JHSs and SHSs will be fumigated and disinfected while all teaching and non-teaching staff will be given reusable face masks. The schools will also be provided with Veronica buckets, and other essentials to aid the fight against Covid-19.

He also disclosed that JHS 2 students will be given one hot meal a day.

According to the President, after further consultations, the GES has decided to postpone the remainder of the academic year for all nursery, kindergarten, primary, JHS 1 and SHS 1 students.

“The next academic year will resume in January 2021, with appropriate adjustments made to the curriculum, to ensure that nothing is lost from the previous year,” he said.

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Gatherings

The President, however, said assemblies and sporting events remain banned.

“We will continue to ensure that each school which does not have its own sick bay has been mapped to a health facility, and care is provided to the sick by nurses assigned to them,” he said.

The President further announced that a decision will also be taken on the resumption of contact sports, including football, in the next couple of weeks.

“Until then, non-contact sports are the only sporting events permitted to take place. Beaches, pubs, cinemas and nightclubs are still to remain closed until further notice. All other institutions that have been cleared to function are to continue to do so in strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols,” he urged.

Case count

Meanwhile, Ghana’s active cases continue to dwindle. Some two weeks ago, the total number of active cases stood at 1,847 persons. As at Friday, August 28, the number of active cases had reduced to 1,059 persons. A total of 42,963 persons have recovered, with 276 persons, “a great majority of them with underlying illnesses, such as hypertension, diabetes and chronic liver disease,” dead.

 

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