A 61-year-old pensioner has died after he drowned in 10 feet abandoned manhole.
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr John Oppong-Boanuh, has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Center for Strategic and Defence Studies.
The Auditor-General’s Department has hinted of plans of recovering all unearned salaries received by some public sector employees as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic is contained in the country.
The Tourism Ministry has issued a statement to nullify a circular earlier released by the Ghana Tourism Authority directing restaurants and other eateries to begin operating dine-in services.
Ghana has recorded 5408 covid-19 cases with 24 deaths.
The Electoral Commission has debunked claim by the Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu that government has provided personal protective equipment to the commission for use in the compilation of the new voters register.
The National Media Commission (NMC) has said it is not clothed with the law to ban any group of professionals or individuals from using the media in reaching out to the public.
Heads of Christian Ecumenical Bodies in Ghana have expressed their preparedness to resume activities, as they put together a proposal for the government to clearly spell out modalities under which they can safely perform their programmes without endangering the lives of congregants as the COVID-19 rages on.
The proposal is a follow up to a meeting between President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and leaders of the Christian faith at the Jubilee House on April 21, 2020.
The proposal, a copy of which was sighted by the Daily Graphic, is advocating strict adherence to all prescribed precautionary etiquettes against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including providing separate seating areas for the aged.
However, the Founder of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Rev. Dr Mensa Otabil, and the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) say it is too early to lift the ban on public, social and religious gatherings, given that the case counts of the pandemic are still rising.
The proposal by the Ecumenical Bodies is to be jointly presented by the Chairman of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), the Most Rev. Dr Paul Boafo; the President of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC), Rev. Prof. Yaw Frimpong-Manso; the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC), the Most Rev. Phillip Naameh, and the President of the National Association of Charismatic and Christian Churches (NACCC), Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams.
The proposal identifies some risk areas for the spread of the virus and proffers solutions to mitigate them.
Among the areas are entry points to churches, such as doors and door handles, rails and pillars, and seating arrangements in the churches.
The churches have expressed their commitment in the proposal to ensure that services such as offertory, communion and giving or receiving offering and tithes are carried out in line with the safety protocols.
Furthermore, they offered to form COVID-19 response teams in their respective churches, in addition to stepping up education on the pandemic by engaging members and people within their environs.
Meanwhile, during his virtual church service yesterday, Dr Otabil said churches had to endure the ban, since the crisis was not easing.
“This is not the time for churches to consider gathering together in assemblies because the crisis before us is not going down. Just when we thought in Ghana we were having control over the situation, we are beginning to realise the virus has a mind of its own. It doesn’t seem to correspond to some of the efforts we are making,” he said.
Dr Otabil called for patience during the current phase, while waiting for the time when churches could safely reopen for fellowship.
“It may not seem suitable to us, but that is the price we pay to make the world a better place,” he said.
He further advised his fellow worshipers to wait until it was safe to gather in one accord and emphasised that churches had a role to play in protecting society by urging adherence to current protocols, even though they were uncomfortable.
GMA says ‘no’
In a related development, the GMA has urged President Akufo-Addo not to lift the ban on social gatherings, which include religious activities, schools, marriages and funerals, as the country continued to record high numbers of COVID-19 cases.
The association also wants the President to ensure that all Ghanaians complied with all the protocols for preventing the spread of the virus.
In a statement jointly signed and issued by its President, Dr Patrick Ankobea, and the General Secretary, Dr Justice Yankson, last Saturday, the GMA said: "Non-adherence to the COVID-19 preventive measures at this point in our collective fight against the disease has a huge potential to erode any gains made so far."
"This also has the propensity to escalate further spread of the disease,” it added.
It said the seeming disregard for all the preventive measures put in place by large sections of the population was a major threat to curtailing the disease in the country.
A ban was placed on all public, social and religious gatherings by President Akufo-Addo on March 15 as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.
When he extended the ban, the President said there was a unanimous decision with the leaders of the major interest groups that it was early to lift it.
However, in preparation for the eventual lifting of the ban, the leaders of the Christian Ecumenical Bodies have presented the proposal.
President Akufo-Addo has extended the ban on public gatherings until the end of May 2020.
Christian leaders have drawn up modalities to guide congregants against the possible spread of Covid-19 in the various houses of worship across the country following preparation towards reopening of churches.
This is in conformity to President Nana Akufo-Addo’s directive to the Clergy at a meeting held at the Jubilee House in April, that requested heads of churches and ecumenical councils to develop modalities and guidelines ahead of possible lifting of the ban on public gatherings.
A document submitted jointly by Heads of the Christian Ecumenical Bodies in Ghana identified the potential risk areas in the church and what to do to mitigate potential spread of the virus. But critics say the religious spaces would largely become a battleground for the deadly plague should President Akufo-Addo lift the ban on social gathering in the midst of the coronavirus.
The two-week extension of the ban on social gatherings is due to expire in 24 hours. It was first imposed on March, 15, 2020 by the President and reviewed on April 27.
The ban affects all public gatherings including conferences, workshops, funerals, festivals, political rallies, church activities and other related events.
Below is the full document by Christian Leaders:
PREPARATION TOWARDS REOPENING OF CHURCHES IN GHANA: GUIDELINES TO MITIGATE POTENTIAL SPREAD OF COVID-19
Heads of the Christian Ecumenical Bodies in Ghana
Rev. Dr. Cyril Fayose, CCG Rev. Emmanuel Barrigah, GPCC
Bishop Titi Offei, NACCC Rev. Fr. Lazarus Anondee, GCBC
May 07, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic exacts global toll on lives and livelihoods, Ghana’s case count keeps increasing steadily since the first index case was reported on March 12, 2020 and government’s response towards slowing and stopping the transmission, government issued several preventive protocols (social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene practices), partial lockdown in epicenters, and imposed several restrictions on public gatherings including temporary suspension of communal Church activities. Impliedly, the suspension of religious gathering constitutes a form of lockdown, owing to the Church’s inability to congregate for communal worship. And following the President’s meeting with heads of churches and ecumenical councils on April ??, 2020 at the Jubilee House where His Excellency the President charged the Christian leaders to develop modalities and guidelines to mitigate the spread of the virus should the ban on public gathering be lifted, the Christian leaders developed these intervention strategies.
In assessing Church’s readiness and capacity to comply with COVID-19 pandemic safety protocols, it is important to note that addressing CV-19 “requires a whole-of-government and whole-of-society response.” The Church being a major stakeholder is indispensable in the State’s overall COVID-19 containment and mitigation strategies. Given that 71% of Ghanaians identify as Christians, the Church, with its wide social network, access to communities, captive audience, unquestioned authority, and influential actors of public support for government measures is best placed to help in numerous ways with educating, counseling and sustaining the populace.
1. GUIDELINES TO MITIGATE POTENTIAL SPREAD OF COVID-19
As the Church prepares to come back for communal worship, the tables below show the potential risk areas and what to do to mitigate potential spread.
1. Entrance points to churches
2. Door handles
2. Utility areas in the church
1. WC handles
2. Washroom door handles
3. Seating arrangements in the church
1. Close seating arrangement in the church that breaches social distancing regulations
2. Group sitting e.g. the choir
4. Nature of church building
1. Poorly ventilated churches – having few and small windows
2. Entirely glass windows that impede free flow of air
5. Nature of service
1. Handshakes during welcome sessions
2. Singing groups congregating at one side and singing
3. Group meetings – Sunday schools where teachers speak to small groups. Those in the front roll are at risk
4. Communion services where cups are handed to individuals
5. Communion service where many people drink from one cup
6. Communion services where packaged loafs are
handed to individuals
Devices and items
1. Microphones used commonly by more than one person, faucets, telephones
2. Money handled by more than one person through
giving offering and tithes
Vestries & Pastors’ offices
1. Door and seat handles
3. Poorly ventilated rooms
4. Common surfaces including Pastors’ tables
SPECIFIC RISK AREAS
INTERVENTIONS TO PUT IN PLACE
1. Church Entrances and
1. Hand washing: Make available hand-washing materials for all to wash hands before entering the church or touching rails, door handles and pillars. A running tap or Veronica bucket should be put at all entrances for every church member to wash hands before entering the church. Handsfree soap dispenser must be fitted to avoid cross contamination.
2. Sanitization: Make hand-sanitizer (preferably a dispenser) available at near church entrances, outside washrooms, pastors’ offices, vestries and lobbies for members to sanitize their hands.
3. Enforce hand washing and sanitization: have one person (usher) dedicated to the entrance to enforce the above, making sure that every church member at least, washes the hands for 20 seconds under running water and also sanitizes the hands after washing. Enforcement is more important than instituting the measures in order to achieve sustained compliance. In addition, churches should put up signs reminding people to wash hands, cough/sneeze into their elbows and remind people from the pulpit/stag
2. Utility areas
1. Clean utility areas, surfaces and items touched by different people routinely. Preferably clean surfaces every 1-2 hours depending on utilization. Door handles, WC handles, faucets, microphones. Seat arms/handles should be disinfected before and after service for the next session.
3. Seating in churches
1. Observe social distancing through seating arrangements: seating should be rearranged to allow social distancing rules. Contiguous seats should be 2 arms-length reach (2m). So should be the distance before and after one seat to ensure that cough, sneeze and talking from one church member does not predispose the neighbours to the virus particularly from asymptomatic carriers.
2. Provide separate seating areas for the aged and families.
3. Organize churches services in sessions: because of the need for social distancing as described above, there will invariably be the need to organize churches in more than one session with at least one hour in between services.
Wear facemasks: All citizens/church members including pastors, are to wear facemasks to enter churches. It is particularly important for those who will engage by talking e.g. pastors, Sunday school teachers etc. The mask will prevent droplet infections from getting to the others. For all others, it will also prevent them getting droplets from others in the church. Masks are to be kept on until one comes back home. This will reduce the risk of spread from asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
4. Nature of building
1. All windows should be opened fully during church services to allow good ventilation. There should be no use of air conditioners. This will diffuse and reduce the concentration of the virus (should there be anyone infected) in the room.
5. Nature of service
1. All handshakes are to be avoided in churches during this period of COVID-19. This leads to cross-contamination and spread of the virus.
2. All who speak in churches must wear N95 facemask during service. This will reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.
3. Singers/Choristers: observe social distancing and also avoid second row of singers. As much as possible prerecorded music may be used.
4. Communion Service: Offer individual cups for communion. Reduce hand-to-hand transmission by
providing individual bread and cup servings. Hand hygiene and food safety precautions must strictly be observed by those who prepare these communions.
5. Giving / collection of offering and tithes: It is advisable not to pass offering bowls and baskets around. Items that are frequently handled can be sources of contaminants for the COVID-19 virus. The virus can be retained on the offering/tithe bowl for hours and can be passed on to others. The best option will be for a stationary bowl with a wide opening to be put in front or entry point where people do not need to handle the bowl before putting in their offering and tithes. Where practicable, churches should advice their members to use mobile money for offerings and tithes as this means of giving reduces the risk of transmission
6. Education on Covid-19
1. Communicate with and educate church members, and persons in the communities that the church is located
2. Select members in the church should be trained and be made responsible for COVID-19 education and coordination of resources to help the church.
3. The church should mobilize resources to help individuals in
need including church health facilities
Most Rev Dr Paul Boafo (Chairman, Christian Council of Ghana)
Rev Prof Yaw Frimpong Manso (President, Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council)
Most Rev Phillip Naameh (President, Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference)
Archbishop Nicholas Duncan Williams (President, National Association of Charismatic and Christian Churches)
Dated Thursday 7th May, 2020