COVID-19: Telecos given extra free spectrum to ensure quality service

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Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful

The National Communication Authority (NCA) has granted extra spectrum to MTN Ghana and Vodafone to cope with the heavy traffic generated by the use of the internet due to the ‘Stay at Home’ directive.

The move is intended to ease the pressure on their networks and ensure quality service delivery as the nation entered the third week of partial lockdown of COVID-19 hotspot areas.

Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Communication Minister, announced the incentives during a media briefing in Accra, on Tuesday, to update the public on measures and interventions instituted by Government to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus.

In view of that, customers of the two networks could browse education websites on COVID-19 as well as the Ghana Health Service and Ministry of Information websites at no cost.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful, therefore, advised customers of the telecos to refrain from downloading videos and making WhatsApp video calls since that would require more data bundles.

Regarding efforts the Ministry had instituted to facilitate virtual learning, she said it was collaborating with StarTimes to provide education content on the Ghana Learning Television through the 300 Digital Village Project.

This will enable pupils and students in rural settings to access educational materials for free.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said 600 projectors and 300 television sets were procured and supplied to beneficiary communities.

The Ministry had also made available Smart workplace platform for government workers to ensure that more than 300,000 workers provided useful services during the partial lockdown.

Currently, about 20,000 public sector workers are using the smart workplace portal to render various services to government agencies.

On March 23, this year, the Executive Instrument 23 was accented to by the President, which paved the way for the Emergency Communication Legislation, she said.

This ensures that health authorities track persons infected with the virus using communication devices without infringing on people’s privacy.

It also culminated in the launch of the GH COVID-19 Tracker Application on Monday, April 13, by the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.

The Tracker App will enable individuals who had come into contact with COVID-19 patients or experiencing symptoms of the virus to call *769# or log onto the website: www.ghcovid19.com to report their location to health professionals for easy contact tracing.

The Minister explained that the Tracker App had been encrypted, therefore personal information of people is protected.

She said less than 24 hours after launching the App, 16,000 downloads had occurred, of which 100 of those who provided information were exhibiting symptoms of the virus.

In addition, the Ministry was supporting the Ghana Health Service to effectively utilise the emergency numbers – 112 and 311 – as well as other hotlines made available to the public to report cases concerning the respiratory disease, the Minister stated.

Ghana’s case count for COVID-19 now stands at 566 as of April 11, with eight deaths and 17 persons fully recovered.

Sixty-six persons who previously tested positive for the virus are now negative and awaiting second test report, with 208 patients in mild condition and two persons critically ill.

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