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The Special Advisor to the President on Health, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare, has stated that the government will not bow to pressure to evacuate Ghanaian students in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
To him, the only time the government will move to repatriate the students will be after successful consideration of all technical advice from health authorities on the gravity of the situation.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Dr. Nsiah, intimated that the cost of getting a flight to evacuate the students may even pose a challenge given the procedures involved.
“If you want to get anybody out of the Wuhan Province, one may have to get a chartered flight. Even with that, the Chinese government will have to give us permission to bring them. From what I hear from the Embassy, getting a chartered flight can be a big problem because most flights are not flying to the place. So the government is considering all the technical advice from both the technical advice from the WHO and the local people, and when the time comes for us to evacuate, we will do.”
Ghana has so far recorded nine suspected cases of the virus. All of the nine cases tested negative.
Over 28,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed globally, with 565 deaths confirmed so far, the majority of which has occurred in China.
Students desperate for evacuation
Ghanaian students in the Chinese city of Wuhan keep calling on the government to evacuate them as they face depleting food supplies amid an ongoing shut down of the city.
The students say they are yet to receive food and protective items despite the release of almost GH₵40,000 by the Ghana Embassy in Beijing.
Some of the students in an interview said: “…the little foodstuff we have is what we’ve been surviving on. For instance, if you’re someone who eats three times a day, you would have to eat once a day so you’ll be able to survive with what you have. So the message is just one. We need evacuation.”
So far, the Ghanaian Embassy in China has been supporting Ghanaian students with food supplies, although some countries have evacuated their nationals in China.
Evacuate students now – Ablakwa demands
A Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, is unhappy the students have not yet been evacuated despite the outbreak.
Mr. Ablakwa, who also doubles as the North Tongu MP said the evacuation is long overdue.
“You need to reach out in this time of considerable anxiety and chaos. More so, we are probably among the few countries who have refused to evacuate our nationals.”
“Last week, I put out a statement. I urged authorities to follow the examples of countries like Tunisia, the UK, and evacuate our nationals. Now, the matters have gotten worse. As of last week, the death toll was under 200. Now, it’s approaching 600 and the situation is getting out of hand,” he lamented.
Chairman of committee reacts
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, Frank Annoh Dompreh, has said the government was doing the needful to ensure the safety of citizens in China.
But he could not provide timelines to the government’s plans for the students.
“So I believe from my checks I’ve done at the ministry, clearly, government is monitoring the situation and very frantic efforts are underway to do the needful but I’m unable to tell what stage they are and what the indications are as to whether the students will be brought back home,” he stated.
by Nii Larte Lartey
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