Ghana has ended its mandatory requirement to wear face masks in public, becoming the newest African country to ease covid-19 containment measures as infections fall, and pressure grows to reopen economies.
In a televised address on March 27, president Nana Akufo-Addo announced that for the fully vaccinated, outdoor functions can resume, and travelers no longer have to take covid-19 tests to enter the country, among other changes.
“It has been a difficult two years for all of us, and we are seeing light at the end of a very long tunnel,” Akufo-Addo said.
Africa is at a turning point
Cases have gone down around the continent since January 2022, when there was a spike driven by the omicron variant.
But the World Health Organization is urging caution. According to a survey earlier this month, the WHO says 22 African countries have stopped doing contact tracing and 21 no longer required quarantine for people exposed to the virus.
“The pandemic isn’t over yet and the preventive measures should be eased cautiously with health authorities weighing the risks against the anticipated benefits, said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, at a press briefing on March 24. “Lifting the public health measures does not mean lifting the foot off the pedal of pandemic vigilance.”
Despite lower infections, Africa lags behind the rest of the world in vaccination against covid-19, with only 15.6% of the population fully vaccinated, compared with the global average of 57%.
The continent has officially recorded 11.3 million covid-19 cases.
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