Lockdown Blues: Mixed Reactions Hit Akufo Addo

Mixed reactions have greeted President Akufo Addo’s Sunday decision to lift the three-week Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown of some cities in Ghana.

While some like the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), public health experts and doctors, etc., have criticised the lockdown relaxation as “unfortunate” and “premature”, a cross-section of citizens, civil society groups and health officials and government officials have hailed the move as reasonable.

Traders who have been restricted from trading have welcomed the move by President Akufo Addo because they can resume their income-earning business again.

However, the NDC thinks the move by the President was premature. In a statement signed by Prosper Bani, former Chief of Staff and a member of the NDC’s Covid-19 Response Team, the Sunday decision of the President is “dangerous and would most likely result in a significant escalation in the numbers of cases beyond the 1048 we presently have, as stated by government.”

On April 19, 2020, in a nationwide address, the President explained that his decision was backed by scientific data and sound professional advice.

Conversely, those who criticise the President’s decision are questioning why the government will reverse the lockdown directive when Ghana’s infection rate had kept escalating. Just a few hours before the President’s announcement, Ghana had recorded the highest Covid-19 confirmation so far at 401 in just two days. As at Friday April 17, 2020, Ghana officially had 641 confirmed cases, but by Sunday night, the tally had jumped to 1,042.

Global health expert, Dr John Amuasi and Neurologist, Dr Hadi Abdallah are predicting a spike in Ghana’s coronavirus cases following the scrapping of the lockdown.

Dr Hadi Abdallah who is also a Specialist Doctor at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in reaction wrote:  “ This decision by the President is very unfortunate. It may be borne out of economic considerations and elections. It has nothing to do with science….We relaxed restrictions when we claim there are 18,000 samples to test. This decision certainly wasn’t taken based on science”

The Founder of Danquah Institute and the “de facto Prime Minister”, Gabby Otchere Darko, believes lifting the restrictions was a wise decision.

 According to Mr Otchere Darko, it is early days yet to criticize and as he put it only time will tell. In his article responding to critics, he wrote that, “…There is evidence across the world that the way it spreads, the speed, pattern and impact of that spread may vary from country to country, community to community. Yet, those who are convinced that lifting the partial lockdown in Accra and Kumasi now was wrong may have a point. Only time will tell. But, they will be wrong to think that their opinion is supported by science and data and that of the President not,” Otchere-Darko wrote.

 “…The truth is that it is harder to impose a lockdown in a developing (poor) country than in a developed (rich) country…We should be careful about being unduly influenced by imported groupthink. We must develop our own groupthink based on our own circumstances and available scientific evidence.”

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