Education Minister Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh has suggested that the government lockdown Oforikrom and its surrounding areas in the Ashanti Region since, according to him, doctors have told him the number of COVID-19 cases coming from that area is huge.
Dr Prempeh, who recently recovered from the virus after being admitted to the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC) told Asempa FM in an interview that: “Before I went to the hospital, I spoke to some of the doctors and they were worried about Oforikrom in the Ashanti Region that the number of cases coming from Oforikrom is [alarming] and they don’t understand”.
He said: “When I went to Kumasi, I was worried about my Zongo because they were not following any of the protocols. Oforikrom has a lot of Zongos. So, we have to drill down and look into it”.
“In that situation”, he noted, “if we say we are locking down Oforikrom plus all the district assemblies contiguous to Oforikrom, it will be a good thing to do. My lockdown suggestion is that if the issue is getting overwhelming in Oforikrom, let’s restrict movement at Oforikrom and its surrounding districts and see how, if we can, impose a sort of restriction, a harsher form of restrictions till we get the number down”.
Dr Prempeh added that: “People shouldn’t believe that because the President showed leadership and we are one of the best countries, as far as COVID-19 incidences are concerned, through our reactions, so, we [should] sit and lie back”.
“I, even personally, have started entertaining that if we are not careful, per how things are going, in front of us, we might have a lockdown in specific parts of the country. I have that feeling that in specific parts of the country, not the whole Ghana, we might have to have a lockdown because people are stubborn”.
According to him, “you can’t just watch an area where, for instance, out of 100 people, 90 have tested positive and just say they should keep going and coming; you can’t do that”.
He warned: “If we keep opening up for people to do whatever they want; go to the bar, go to the joint, go to the fufu spot, go to church the way we want it, it will worry us because the problem we have in Ghana, one of the reasons the President showed that decisive leadership, is that we don’t want our cases to end up in the hospitals because we don’t have the hospital capacity”.
“We, in this country, don’t have the hospital capacity … So, when you don’t have the resources, that is when you even need to plan more and prevent you from getting to the situation where you are overwhelmed”, he noted.
He said: “While I was on admission at the hospital, somebody lost his life. He was taken to the ICU at UGMC, which was full. So, if we don’t put in place the measures that will prevent people from getting to UGMC in the first place, [then we’ll be overwhelmed]”.
In his view, any localised lockdown will be guided by the science and data.
“When the data and the science and the numbers are saying that in this area, there’s a preponderance of COVID activity, so, we have to lockdown that area, it means schools in that area won’t open, shops will remain closed; there would be a limit to human interactions. Like Melbourne, Australia, two states went into total lockdown for six weeks. Why? They had ease. After the easing of restrictions, [some place saw an upsurge in cases]”.