Ghana became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to ease movement restrictions after a 21-day lockdown of its biggest cities bought the government enough time to improve its preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic, said President Nana Akufo-Addo.

Residents of the capital, Accra, and major centers are allowed to return to work from Monday even though other restrictions such as school closures and a ban on sport and religious meetings remain in place, Akufo-Addo said Sunday in a televised address.

The disease has brought three years of economic expansion of 6% or more to a sudden halt in the nation of 30 million people, with the finance ministry forecasting that growth could slow to 1.5%, the least in 37 years. The International Monetary Fund last week disbursed $1 billion in emergency funds to Ghana while a debt standstill from the World Bank will free up $500 million in interest and principal payments.

“The decision to restrict movement has occasioned a number of severe difficulties for all of us across the country, especially for the poor and vulnerable,” Akufo-Addo said. Going forward, “we’ll tailor our solution to our unique social economic and cultural condition. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.”


Ghana has spent the lockdown to conduct more than 68,000 tests and draw up plans to establish testing centers in all of its 16 regions, Akufo-Addo said. Local factories are producing protective equipment while drones are used to speed up the transportation of tests, he said.

Still, public hospitals only have 67 ventilators even though orders have been placed to eventually have 200 available, said Information Minister Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah. Confirmed cases reached 1,042 with nine deaths, while the results of 18,000 testing samples remain outstanding.

“Lifting these restrictions doesn’t mean we are letting our guard down,” said Akufo-Addo. “Whenever the situation so warrants, a community in which the virus is identified as becoming prevalent will be locked down, until there is a clear understanding of the trajectory of the virus.”

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