Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah has issued new directives to all judges and magistrates in the country to grant long adjournments in court cases not requiring immediate resolution as coronavirus cases in Ghana surge in the last 24 hours.
Consequent to that, lawyers with cases in court have been asked to go to court on their due dates without their clients, and request for the case to be adjourned to specific dates in May, June and July.
“Alternatively, lawyers on both sides of a case may agree together to adjourn the matter to a specific date to be communicated to the Registrar in writing, thus avoiding the need to travel to the Court for that purpose,” a statement issued by the chief justice advised.
Judges and magistrates have further been directed to ensure that in cases currently being heard, “only lawyers, parties and their witnesses are allowed in Court”.
The new directives according to the CJ, has become necessary “to ensure that the Courts are sufficiently decongested” in accordance with the social distancing directives issued by President Nana Akufo-Addo on March 15 as part of measures to stem the spread of the covid-19 in Ghana.
“We are operating in very unusual times with no precedents to guide us,” he said, but indicated it is key to ensure that the needs of the citizenry for justice are adequately satisfied.
16 confirmed cases
From the first two confirmed cases on March 12, and a daily steady rise, Ghana has within eight days recorded a total of 16 cases of the global pandemic but no fatalities so far.
Figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show more than 209,000 people have now been infected by the coronavirus worldwide and killed at least 8,000 people globally. The pandemic has caused health crisis in some nations.
At least 86,000 have recovered from COVID-19, data from Johns Hopkins University in the US has also revealed.
The five new cases confirmed in Ghana involved three localized infections as authorities say they have no travel history.
Ghana Health Service officials at the forefront of the disease are unable to tell how two of the localized cases were contracted because they have neither travelled outside Ghana nor had known contact with an infected person.
In the case of the 53-year-old Ghanaian male in Tema, officials say “no history of travel, no evidence of close contact with confirmed case”.
For the 29-year-old Ghanaian lady of Accra, officials did not say how she got the disease except to say her “sample confirmed positive in the laboratory”.
However, for a 34-year-old Ghanaian lady resident of Accra, she was said to have contacted an infected person her place of work.
A statement issued moments ago by the Ghana Health Service said all the five new cases were reported from Greater Accra Region and involved Ghanaians.
The fourth case is a 41-year-old Ghanaian male who arrived in Ghana by KLM on the 15 March 2020.
“[He] indicated exposure with family members in Amsterdam exhibiting respiratory symptoms and also on the flight with some passengers sneezing and coughing; sample confirmed positive in the laboratory,” the Ghana Health Service stated.
A 36-year-old Ghanaian male resident in Paris, France although arrived in Ghana with an unconfirmed case, he later tested positive.
Officials said there is “no evidence of contact with infected person”.
Though no death has been recorded in the country since the first two confirmed cases were recorded on March 12, there are fears the situation could get worse as Ghana appears to be moving from steady rise to a surge with localized cases being recorded.
Ghana has since March 15 taken a series of measures including a ban on social gatherings for the next four weeks, closure of schools and a ban on non-citizens from countries worst hit by the global pandemic from entering Ghana.