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Face masks and handwashing protocols observed, social distancing defied at funerals

The mourners defied the President's directive

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced the re-imposition of a raft of restrictions on Sunday to help curb the rising COVID-19 infections in the country.

In the televised speech, the 23rd update on the pandemic in the country, the President said that funerals, weddings, concerts, theatrical performances, and parties are banned, but “private burials with no more than 25 persons in attendance can be held. Beaches, night clubs, cinemas, and pubs would also remain shut.”

GhanaWeb, therefore, took a walk around some communities in the Lower Manya Krobo Municipal in the Eastern Region on Saturday to observe the adherence or otherwise of these protocols as announced by the President.

Though this portal observed most protocols including the wearing of nose masks, handwashing and use of sanitizers were generally adhered to, the number of mourners in all homes visited exceeded the 25 maximum number announced by President Akufo-Addo.

The unanimous explanation for flouting this number as explained by the various family heads interviewed by GhanaWeb pointed to the fact that they had already slated their respective funerals for the weekend and therefore could neither cancel them nor prevent the masses who turned up from participating.

At Salosi where the Dadematse Kwao family were mourning their departed, almost all mourners were observed in nose masks with veronica buckets with soap and tissue paper on standby and a health worker positioned at the entrance of the house to take temperatures of the mourners.

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Social distancing was however not adequately observed due to the high number of persons who had turned up to mourn with the bereaved family.

Though the family took efforts to ensure that too many people were not crowded at one place by grouping the mourners into three, the mourners in each group numbered in their hundreds.

Head of the Dadematse Kwao Family, Asawatse Okyeame Kwasi admitted in an interview with GhanaWeb that observing social distancing was difficult though all other protocols were being observed religiously.

“The government is reminding us that there is a pandemic so if you must do anything you must wear face masks and we are observing this so if you come here now, you’ll observe that everybody have their masks on. Nobody is drunk and we did not engage any spinners to come to play music,” he remarked, convinced that the family was observing the protocols but admitted that they were not observing the social distancing.

GhanaWeb’s next stop was at Odumase where the Konodja family was holding a funeral for a departed military man. Handwashing buckets were placed at vantage points for use by members of the public who turned up for the funeral, it was observed.

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Nene Amanor Osom I is the chief of Akateng and family head of the Konodja family. He also explained that the family did not breach any of the safety protocols announced by the government.

“What the government said, we have seen that and observing all the protocols here. Even the military would not allow you to enter if you did not wear your nose mask and we did not exceed the 25,” he said.

But GhanaWeb observed that the situation was no different from the other places visited as mourners exceeded the president’s directives.

At Adome, a family was observing the funeral celebrations of their son who we leant died in December 2020.

It was discovered that though the majority of the mourners wore their nose masks in line with safety protocols, basic hygiene enhancement items such as handwashing buckets, soap and tissues and sanitizers were missing.

Social distancing was also not being enforced as the numbers who had turned up in their hundreds far exceeded the mandated 25 announced by the president in his 23rd address to nature.

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Head of the family, Amekudji Odorkor said though the family was aware of the president’s directives of private burials involving up to 25 people, the family could not stop the many friends who had already been informed of the burial on Saturday.

“Our relative died in December and the funeral was already planned for the very Sunday after the President announced the restrictions. You see, most of the relatives and loved ones live in Accra, Ashaiman and other places and therefore they all wanted to be here,” explained the family head.

Though the mourners were obviously more than the required number, he nevertheless said the family made efforts to segregate the numbers to ensure that they were all not crowded at one place.

A similar situation was also observed at Korletsom where inasmuch as various safety protocols were in place, hundreds of people had gathered for a funeral, making social distancing impossible.

Seyelor Narh Kwesi, second-in-command to the chief of Suisi and family head also said that his family did its best to observe the protocols.

President Akufo-Addo introduced restriction measures for the first time in March 2020 after the country confirmed its first COVID-19 case.