, 24 March, 2020 / 8:00 AM
Ghanaians will, on Wednesday, March 25, observe a National Day of Prayer and fasting, seeking God’s intervention over COVID-19 following a directive from Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo after the country announced on Saturday, March 21 that the number of people infected with the disease had reached 21.
The nationwide adherence to prayer and fasting will coincide with the Catholic Church Solemnity of the Annunciation, the day that the Church commemorates the visit of the archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, during which he informed her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ.
“Whilst we continue to adhere to these measures, and ramp up our efforts to defeat this virus, I urge all of us, also, to seek the face of the Almighty,” President Akufo-Addo said in a televised nation address to Ghanaians on March 21.
He added, “On Wednesday, 25th March, 2020, I appeal to all Ghanaians, Christians and Muslims, to observe a national day of fasting and prayer.”
Catholics are, during the Solemnity of Annunciation, continually reminded of the importance of the feast to the salvation of mankind. They are encouraged to reflect on the joyous mysteries of the Holy Rosary and the Angelus.
Earlier, the Archbishop of Accra in a Pastoral Letter to The Faithful in the Archdiocese said that the Lenten season re-enforces the call to intensify every one’s prayer life and implored, “Let us use these rich devotional prayers we have as a church.”
“We know the benefit we derive from these devotional prayers. These moments of crisis permit us to get closer to God by intensifying our prayer life. As a faith community, we are ready to offer the world the weapon of prayer in the fight against COVID-19,” the Accra Prelate said, adding, “God, through prayer, will heal our land.”
The Accra Archbishop also touched on the Lenten observance calls on Catholics to also fast and give alms as sincere signs of repentance.
By choosing the Day of Solemnity, Ghana’s President said that “Let us pray to God to protect our nation and save us from this pandemic” and “I thank the men and women of God who prayed for the nation with me on Thursday, March19 and with the Vice President on Friday, March 20 for their intervention, he added.
In the 10-minute address, the President updated the 30 million citizens from the sixteen regions in the country on the progress of the nation’s fight against the Coronavirus pandemic against some five-point objectives that the country had put in place.
The objective included limiting and stopping the importation of the virus, containing its spread, providing adequate care for the sick, limiting the impact of the virus on social and economic life as well as inspiring the expansion of the country’s domestic capability and self-reliance.
The President, in his third address to the West African nation since the first COVID-19 case was reported in the country, regretted that one of the 21 cases, a person that the President said had underlying health complications, had succumbed to the illness.
President Nana Addo also announced closure of Ghana’s borders from Sunday, March 22, 2020, to further help reduce further escalation of infections in the country.
“All our borders that is by land, sea and air will be closed to human traffic for the next two weeks, beginning midnight on Sunday March 22. Anybody who comes into the country, before midnight on Sunday, will be mandatorily quarantined and tested for the virus,” the president said, adding, “This closure will however not apply to goods, supplies and cargo.”
He noted that the Ministry of Health will not only step up its contact tracing efforts, but will also see to it that all persons who have been identified as having come into contact with infected persons are tested for the virus.
“More personal protection equipment are being procured to beef up supplies for our frontline health workers. Fifty thousand additional test kits have been ordered, and are expected in the country very shortly.
Ghana’s President applauded retired health professionals who had abandoned the comfort of their retirement and joined their colleagues in the fight against COVID-19 in hospitals and called upon pharmaceutical companies to scale up their domestic production.
“It is encouraging to hear of the numbers of retired healthcare professionals who have stepped forward to offer their services, just as it is to note the Ghanaian entrepreneurs who have responded to this crisis by producing greater quantities of sanitizers... I reiterate my appeal to members of the pharmaceutical industry to scale up their domestic production of pharmaceutical products. Government will do its best to support them,” the President said.
He said more personal protection equipment were being procured to beef up supplies for the country’s frontline health workers, noting that “an additional 50,000 test kits have been ordered in the country very shortly.”
“Together, and by the Grace of God, we shall overcome and this, too, will pass,” he told the many Ghanaians who were glued to their television and radio sets as well as to social media, adding, “There are obvious difficulties ahead of us, and we should all brace ourselves to face them.”
Meanwhile, about 26 markets in the Greater Accra Region of the West African country were on Monday, March 23 closed to pave way for what the government announced as a disinfection exercise to kill the COVID-19 causing virus, according to a statement issued March 20, 2020 by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA).
"In line with the President's directive on measures to contain and prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the country, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly with support from the Greater Accra Markets Association wishes to inform the general public that there will be a massive disinfection exercise across all public market centres within its jurisdiction," the statement read in part, adding, “Towards this end, the markets will be closed down on 23rd March and reopen the next day for normal business to continue.”
The announcement of the fumigation exercise was followed by panic information of a possible lockdown of the country which drove many Ghanaians into panic buying of foodstuffs.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa