Police “Stop and Search” operation to check Covid-19 spread

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The Police administration says it will commence what it describes as “Stop and Search” of vehicles with multiple persons to ensure compliance with laws on the wearing of face masks.

This means that police officers in uniform will randomly check vehicles, especially commercial buses, to inspect whether passengers are wearing their face masks. Persons found flouting the directive will be asked to disembark from the vehicle while the driver and others are allowed to continue with the journey.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday, the Director of Public Affairs of the Ghana Police Service, Supt (Mrs) Sheila Abayie-Buckman, said this is the next stage of police enforcement of the coronavirus safety protocols.

“For as long as we see two or more people in the vehicles, any police officer in uniform can stop you, look at whether you are wearing your mask properly. If not, you will be brought down; until you find your mask and adorn it well, you cannot board the next vehicle,” she said.

She therefore advised the citizenry to ensure that they have their face masks on as long as they are leaving their homes.

Responding to whether the move would not cause any inconvenience to the public, Supt Abayie-Buckman noted that the initiative is aimed at stopping the further spread of the virus.

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“We are interested more in stopping the spread of the coronavirus and stopping death when you compare that to inconvenience. Since you have been told, we will not take that excuse that it will inconvenience you… what we are concerned with is that everyone is protected,” she pointed out.

“Don’t give us the inconvenience of having to drop you off for the other passengers who are law abiding to continue the journey. If we have to choose between convenience and the spread of COVID-19, we’ll choose inconvenience,” she added.

Arrests and prosecution

Supt Abayie-Buckman told pressmen that prior to the President’s directive on the enforcement of the wearing of face masks, between April 2020 and January 17, 2021, the police recorded 222 cases of people not wearing face masks, with 1,584 people arrested.

Of the arrested persons, 453 were arraigned before court; 237 of them were acquitted and 144 were granted bail by the courts while 70 were convicted.

She further said that since the President reiterated the enforcement directives, from January 18 2021, the police have had 961 cases of persons not wearing face masks, with the Accra having the highest cases with 330.

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Verbal cautions were given to 484 of the people involved and written cautions were given to 477 of these persons.

“If we arrest you in this next step, and we realise you are a repeat offender, you leave us with no choice than to find the provision under the law to prosecute you,” she said.

She further noted that police were exploring ways of tightening enforcement at the district level, saying “we have started engaging to see how they can activate their by-laws to ensure enforcement of the wearing of masks as their by-laws permit specifically to the regions, and we hope to see results too.”

School reopening

Taking his turn at the event, the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, disclosed that 10 million face masks had been distributed to schools, after the reopening, in order to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

Other items include hand sanitizers, 9.9million; 6-in-1 tissue paper, 1.65million; 4.5-litre gallon liquids soap, 400,000; veronica buckets, 53,000; thermometer guns, 38,000; 4.5-litre gallon hand sanitisers, 140,000; electronic dispensers, 25,000; and face shields, 300,000.

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Prof Opoku-Amankwa said that a team of monitors, including personnel from GES and the Ghana Health Service (GHS), continually monitor, evaluate and report on progress from the schools in terms of the prevention of the spread of the virus.

To help maintain manageable class sizes, he said, district directors have been given directives to make assessments of school-specific needs in coordination with the heads of schools to decongest, where necessary.

Ghana’s COVID-19 status

The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said even though the number of new infections remains high, it has stagnated and there has not been further increases observed in the last one week.

He said, cumulatively, Ghana has record 63,883 COVID-19 cases out of 757,560 tests conducted.

Dr Kuma-Aboagye further revealed that there are 3,940 active cases, with 390 deaths, adding that even though all the 16 regions of the country have recorded active cases, 10 have not recorded new cases.

He advised business owners to decongest offices because of the increasing number of workplace outbreaks.

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