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Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo has announced in a televised address, a further easing of the coronavirus restrictions.

Place of worship are now allowed to open for two hours instead of the one hour restriction given before. Although, there must be the use of face masks and maintaining social distance.

Tourist sites and attractions and open-air drinking spots have also been allowed to reopen. Beaches, pubs, cinemas and nightclubs however remain closed until further notice.

On Friday, April 3, twenty seven commercial motorcycle riders who left Nigeria and took illegal routes to Ghana were arrested and paraded by the Ghanaian policemen.

It was discovered that the motorcyclist decided to leave Nigeria after the ban on okada riding in Lagos state and the current lockdown imposed by the Federal Government and Lagos State government.

Local media highlighted that the men were arrested at the border town of Ketu South after they had successfully entered the country through the illegal routes.

When they were questioned, the men revealed that they were okada riders in Nigeria but due to their inability to do their job, they decided to move to Ghana to continue their trade as they were on their way to Aflao in the Volta region to do okada business.

Head of the police in Ketu South, Elliot Agbenorwu, disclosed that the 27 men are currently being questioned and after all necessary interrogations are done, they will be sent back to Nigeria.

Gabon and Ghana have become the ninth and tenth countries in sub-Saharan Africa to register positive cases of coronavirus. The two countries confirmed their first cases of coronavirus on Thursday

The region has so far been less badly hit by coronavirus than Europe or China. Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon, Togo, South Africa, Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of Congo have also registered cases.

Gabon’s government announced in a statement that its case was a 27-year-old Gabonese man who had returned from France on March 8.

However, Ghana’s health ministry said its two cases were people who had returned recently from Norway and Turkey.

“These are imported cases of COVID-19. Both patients are currently being kept in isolation and are stable,” the ministry said in a statement.

More than 127,000 people have been infected globally and over 6,500 have died since the virus first emerged in China late last year.

Sub-Saharan Africa did not confirm its first coronavirus infection until Feb. 28 in Nigeria, but experts warn that rising cases could test already fragile health systems.

On Wednesday, while addressing the nation live on radio and television on the enhanced measures against the disease, Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced a fund of 100 million U.S. dollars for the fight against COVID-19.

Akufo-Addo said it was a necessary step in the country’s preparedness to fight the disease in case of an outbreak.

“This fund is to finance the expansion of infrastructure, purchase of materials and equipment, and public education,” the president explained.

Up until now, Ghana has tested more than 40 suspected cases of COVID-19, which all proved to be negative.

The president encouraged the people to observe safe hygiene practices that have been announced to avoid getting infected.

Forty students have been selected from various underprivileged communities in Ghana and granted full scholarship by their government to study medicine in Cuba.

On Monday, while speaking at the ceremony, Minister of State at the Office of the Vice President, Hon. Abubakar Sadique Boniface said the special scholarship scheme, is part of the Akufo-Addo government’s policy to develop human capital in deprived communities through education and training.

Boniface said one of the most important reasons why the government of President Akufo-Addo established the Ministry of Inner Cities and Zongo Development is to ensure social development in the Zongos and inner cities, especially in the area of education.

Boniface added that the decision to grant scholarship to 40 students from these communities to study medicine in Cuba, is a major statement of intent on the part of the government and attestation of the government’s commitment to keeping its promises.

“Today it is known and everyone can attest to the fact that the government made a promise and it has fulfilled the promise, sending 40 students to Cuba to study medicine is further testament to the fact that this government is a government which fulfills its promises,” he said.

Kingsley Agyemang, the Head of the Scholarship Secretariat, noted that the selection process to determine the final 40 students to benefit from the scholarship was done under stringent processes which ensured the best from across the country were chosen.

He, therefore, urged the students not to play with the opportunity the nation has offered them. “You are the best we chose from many other qualified students, so don’t disappoint the nation,” he advised the students.

At Sowutuom area in Accra, more than 15 people, mainly the physically challenged, received free National Health Insurance Identity Cards with smiles on their faces from Lance Corporal Simon Agbeko, a police officer with the Accra Police Regional Command.

Lance Corporal Agbeko explained that most people especially the aged in the constituency have not registered with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) mainly because they did not have the money to do that. The benevolent presented the government’s Health Insurance cards to the beneficiaries as part of his good works to humans.

Agbekos aim was to put to an end the growing number of people, who come to him to pay their medical bills. He stated that as most of the people depended on the NHIS to access health care, he decided to use part of his salary to embark on this exercise.

The police officer who has won admiration for using his resources to repair a damaged traffic light and also donates wheelchairs to random physically-challenged persons on the streets urged the people to register for the scheme and commended the beneficiary communities for their zeal during the exercise.

Agbeko also described these charitable acts as a manifestation of divine directions from God, which he receives in his dreams. The police officer further pointed out that, every citizen must do something for his or her country.

He also donated a pair of crutches to the physically challenged persons and gave each of the beneficiaries an undisclosed amount of money.

He encouraged Ghanaians to give out to the poor and the needy in society, announcing that he’ll embark on health projects this year.

The Auditor-General’s Department did a payroll audit which uncovered that over 10,000 employees have either no justification or required information to continue drawing from the public purse.

The affected employees are to make themselves available for enumeration from January 28 to Feb 11, 2020 at the Audit-Service Headquarters (Payroll Audit Branch), Accra to avoid disallowance or surcharge. 

A press statement signed by the Deputy Auditor-General of the Central Government Audit Department, George Swanzy Winful contained ;

It said: “Notice is hereby given that the Auditor-General intends to disallow the continuous existence of all un-accounted for employees on the payroll and surcharge the amounts involved against heads of departments, heads of the management units and the persons involved.”

The affected persons are required to carry with them to the Audit Service Headquarters Biometric Registration Form, SSNIT Biometric Card, Payslip, Appointment Letter, Recent Promotion or Upgrade Letter, all academic certificates and at least two National Identity Cards (Voters ID, Passport, Driver’s License, and the National Health Insurance Scheme).

Additionally, they are to provide approval letter for study leave with pay or without pay, gazette or affidavit for change of name, contract renewal letters for pupil teachers or contract employees and any other relevant documents relating to their employment.

The statement warned that “failure to honour this final invitation will result in the Auditor-General exercising his powers under Article-187(7) to disallow the existence and surcharge such persons on the payroll.”

The suit instituted by Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Chairman Platform Petroleum and second son of late oil mogul High Chief Dr. O. B. Lulu-Briggs, was dumped by a Ghanaian High Court.

This suit was said to have requested to delay further the burial of the prominent Nigerian High Chief and industrialist by neglecting the obligation to accomplish the 23rd December 2019 court-imposed requirement for the release of the body of his father by the Ghanaian Police and Mortuary.

It was said that Dumbo’s Lawyers sought to move their application for clarification of the 23rd December 2019 Court order. But the lawyers representing the widow of the High Chief vehemently opposed the application.

It was said to have resulted in a yelling spree between both parties. However, peace was restored by the Court, which calmed both parties and overruled the lawyers representing the widow by declaring that the application had merit and would be heard.

Justice Kyei-Baffour said: “I have been invited to clarify my order of the 23rd of December 2019. My order is self-explanatory and needs no other clarification.”

On the bases that Dumo had appealed against the ruling to the Supreme Court, the court said, “I should not appear to be shifting the goal post so as to prejudice the appeal and the applications pending at the Supreme Court. Finding no need for the clarification, I dismiss the application.”

Dr Seinye O. B. Lulu-Briggs, The matriarch of the Lulu-Briggs Family, described the ruling and statement of the Court as being undoubtedly appropriate.

“The Court’s amazement at Dumo’s application for the interpretation of an Order that was written in simple English and not in Greek, Ijaw or Swahili proves Dumo’s intention to do mischief, waste the time of the Court on frivolities and further delay the burial of his father,”

Dr. Akwasi Osei, The Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority said that the proposed Mental Health Levy is necessary in view of dwindling resources and in comparative to the high level of challenges facing Ghanaians

“One of our biggest expectations for 2020 is to establish the Mental Health Levy that we’ve been clamouring for,” Dr Osei said.Authorities in the West African state of Ghana are  contemplating the introduction of Mental health Levy special tax to fund different programmes and policy of the government on mental health.

 “Already, there is a Mental Health Fund established by virtue of the law but what would feed the fund is largely the levy. But we are developing a levy to regulate the management of the fund so when the levy comes we already have the protocol and the policy to manage the levy. We are preparing the grounds” he explained.

Dr Osei further advised that the Mental Health Board is developing a policy of how to manage that fund when it is finally established. He stated that mental health has been malnourished, orphaned and deprived of resources for years.

“To bring parity and a level of equality with other health conditions, there is a need to give a lot of resources and that means more funding to mental health than exist.”

He expressed delight in the budgetary allocation for mental health for 2020,He also indicated plans by the Authority to get mentally challenged people off the streets and communities.

Mosquirix, malaria vaccine 30 years in the making, is being used in a pilot program for children under the age of 5 in Ghana, Malawi, and Kenya.

Malaria is one of the world’s deadliest and most stubborn diseases. The mosquito-borne disease kills more than 400,000 people every year. Two-thirds are children are under age 5, and most are in Africa. 

Now, babies in three nations in Africa are getting the first vaccine for malaria in an unusual pilot program

Health officials want to see how well the vaccine works in Malawi, Ghana and Kenya before recommending wider use.

Unlike established vaccines that offer near-complete protection, Mosquirix, is only about 40% effective. Experts say it’s worth a try as progress in fighting malaria stalls.

The US imposed the visa restrictions on Ghana in February 2019 after the West African nation refused to accept the return of 7,000 Ghanaian nationals that it wanted to deport.

It was during Akufo-Addo government’s terrain where they failed to issue travel documents to over 7,000 Ghanaian citizens awaiting deportation from the United States.

Limitations were also placed on the validity and the number of entries on new tourists and business visas for all Ghanaian Executive and Legislative branch employees, their spouses and their children under 21 years to a one-month single entry.

As of Friday, January 17, 2020,The United States has lifted the visa restrictions applied under Section 243(d) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. Visa processing will return to the normal procedures.

The validity period and number of entries on new tourist and business visas (B1, B2, and B1/B2) for all Ghanaian executive and legislative branch employees, their spouses, and their children under 21 will revert to receiving the normal validity, based on reciprocity, which is currently five years with multiple entries. 

All pending non-immigrant visas (NIV) to domestic employees (A3 and G5) of Ghanaian diplomats posted in the United States that were received during the visa restrictions will now be processed.

This follows the establishment of a mutually agreed process for the identification, validating and issuance of travel documentation to Ghanaian citizens under final orders of removal in a manner consistent with international standards issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization, of which Ghana is a Member State.