Ghana: Press Highlights health alert on Ebola Virus Disease, others

APA – Accra (Ghana)

The health alert on the Ebola Virus Disease by the Ghana Health Service and the plan by the Ministry of Communications and Digitisation to demand payment of taxes from telecommunication companies that operate mobile money on the profits they generate from their services are some of the trending stories in the Ghanaian press on Wednesday.

The Graphic reports that the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has directed all regional, district and local health institutions to initiate preparedness and response plans for the Ebola Virus Disease.

The alert comes after Ghana's West-African neighbours Guinea confirmed seven cases of the deadly virus on February 14, 2021, which has led to the death of three persons in that country.

"All Regional and District Public Health Emergency Management Committees should include EVD on their agenda. Additionally, regions, districts, health facilities, port health units at all border posts particularly along the Western border and all landing beaches are to heighten surveillance for EVD using the standard case definition (attached).

They are also requested to remind all Ghanaians and residents in Ghana on the need to protect themselves from the disease," the GHS said in an alert addressed to all Regional Directors of Health and all CEOs of Teaching Hospitals.

The virus can be transmitted through human contact with body fluids of a person infected with the virus. These body fluids include blood, saliva, vomit. urine, sweat and semen, Major symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle pain, unexplained bleeding tendencies from nose, gums, vagina, skin or eyes, as well as vomiting and diarrhoea.

The newspaper says that Minister-designate for Communications and Digitisation, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has said it is time telecommunication companies that operate mobile money paid taxes on the profits they generate from their services.

She said reports she had from the common platform, which monitors mobile money transactions, showed that in January this year alone, monthly transactions that passed through mobile money platforms amounted to GH¢81.3 billion.

That, she said, generated GH¢124.5 million in transaction fees for the mobile money operators, yet the money generated was not taxed, as applied to financial transactions, saying “if the state gets even 10 per cent of that per month, that is GH¢12.5 million”.

“In my opinion (and I am expressing my opinion here), the transaction fees generated by operators from these huge traffic volumes on mobile money platforms ought to be taxed,” she said.

When she appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament (ACP) last Monday, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful explained: “I am not saying that individuals who send and receive mobile money should be taxed. The fees they pay to all the network operators for the service are revenue that the operators earn and the state has to be interested in that and tax them.”

The Graphic also reports that the Cuban Government has offered to transfer technology on a COVID-19 vaccine — currently undergoing trial in that country — to Ghana through an agreement with the Ghanaian pharmaceutical industry.

Under the agreement, the Cuban Government will supply active pharmaceutical ingredients for the formulation, production and packaging of the vaccine in Ghana.

Known as the “Soberana 02”, the vaccine is Cuba’s most advanced candidate against the COVID-19 virus.

Countries such as India, Vietnam, Iran, Venezuela and Pakistan have also expressed interest in acquiring the Soberana 02 vaccine.

The Cuban Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Pedro Luis Despaigne Gonzalez, who disclosed that, said the vaccine had passed the Phase I trial in Cuba, indicating that the Phase II trial had also been carried out on 910 patients, while Phase III trial was expected to commence before the end of February 2021.

The Times says that Ghana’s annual Independence Day anniversary parades and related activities have been suspended nationwide, for the first time, due to the upsurge in the COVID-19 active cases in the country.

The suspension was directed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and communicated to the Ghana Education Service (GES) through the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare.

The day is celebrated on March 6 with parades of personnel from security services and school children, to commemorate the attainment of the country’s Independence from colonial rule in 1957. This year marks 64 years.

A letter signed by the Deputy Director-General of the Ghana (GES), Anthony Boateng, to all Regional Directors of Education, said the directive affected all regions and metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.

“Consequently, management of the GES wishes to inform all regions that the 64th Independence Anniversary Parade on the 6th March  2021 have been suspended forthwith across the country.”

“All Regional Directors are therefore entreated to bring this important directive to the notice of Metropolitan/Municipal/District Education Directors and Heads of all institutions under their jurisdiction for strict compliance,” it said.


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