By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Ghanaian Bishops have expressed concern about the poor adherence to Covid-19 precautionary measures in the buildup to the country’s parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled to be held in December 2020.
In a statement issued on Tuesday on the website of the Ghanaian Bishops’ Conference, the Bishops said that they were worried at the “high level of disregard” for the observance of Covid-19 protocols during the recent New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary primaries, the ongoing voters’ registration exercise, as well as the announcement of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Flag-bearer’s running mate in Accra on Tuesday.
The statement was signed by the President of the Ghanaian Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Philip Naameh of Tamale.
Covid-19 cases increasing
Reminding everyone of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, the Bishops said that the latest updates from the Ghana Health Service indicate that the country’s coronavirus cases are increasing.
“As much as we acknowledge that the recovery rates are equally impressive,” the Bishops note, “the increase in the positive case count is not good news for us as a country. The same can be said about the mortality rate which is also on the increase.”
As of Wednesday, Ghana reportedly has 21,968 confirmed coronavirus cases with 129 deaths in its population of about 31 million people.
The Bishops’ appeal
The Bishops encourage Ghanaian citizens to participate in the voters’ registration exercise but also urge them to take personal responsibility in ensuring the necessary health protocols, especially those of social distancing and the wearing of face masks.
They recall a directive issued by the country’s Electoral Commission on Monday which addressed the overcrowding at some registration centers and recommended a Queue Management System. According to the directive, the first 150 applicants would be provided with numbers and split into two groups. The first group would be attended to in the morning and the other, later in the day.
While applauding this initiative, the Bishops further appeal to the government to assist the Electoral Commission with more security personnel who can ensure strict adherence to the protocols at the registration centres.
Concluding the statement, the Ghanaian Bishops appeal to all to “accept the reality of Covid-19 and thus modify their behaviours to conform to the safety guidelines.”