The Corona Virus Alleviation Programme - Business Support Scheme (CAP-BuSS) of GH¢600.0 million is to specifically support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and was launched by H. E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on 19th May, 2020. The Scheme is part of the GH¢1.2 billion CAP approved by Parliament to address the disruption to economic activities due to the pandemic. Under the Scheme, Government, through the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), and in collaboration with the business and trade associations and selected commercial and rural banks, rolled out a soft loan scheme with a one-year moratorium and two-year repayment period for MSMEs. The objectives of the Scheme are to provide emergency relief fund for MSMEs and entrepreneurs in Ghana, establish a comprehensive and financially sustainable emergency relief fund package for MSMEs, and provide them with technical assistance to ameliorate the impact of COVID-19.and provide them with technical assistance to ameliorate the impact of COVID-19.
FUNDING FOR COVID19 RELIEF EFFORTS
Before the first case of COVID-19 in Ghana was confirmed on 12th March, 2020, Government had proactively put together the GH¢560 million National Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (EPRP) for COVID-19 to manage and contain the spread of the virus and strengthen the national capacity for surveillance, diagnosis, and case management.
Other Initiatives The Ministry Undertook During The Period Include:
COLLABORATION WITH FAITH BASED ORGANIZATIONS
During the Lockdown, the Ministry collaborated with Faith Based Organizations, the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection, and NADMO and successfully distributed food to the vulnerable in society who could not work as a result of the lockdown.
COVID19 TRUST FUND
To leverage other resources to fight the pandemic, Government passed the COVID-19 National Trust Fund Act (CNTF), 2020 (Act 1013) in April 2020 to establish the Fund. As at 30th June, 2020, the CNTF had mobilized GH¢53,911,249.87 from individuals, churches, corporate bodies, staff of organizations, non-Governmental organizations, groups, and associations, etc. Over GH¢32,820,564.97 has been utilized as at 30th June, 2020.
MoF Measures To Contain The Spread Of Covid-19 And Protect Staff And Promote Their Wellbeing
The underlining message throughout this period by Management to staff has been focused on ‘the health and safety of staff and their families, as well as our stakeholders. Management was therefore prepared to ensure that staff were safe in the discharge of our mandate.
The Ministry began orienting staff on the pandemic as soon as the WHO declared the outbreak as a pandemic and global public health emergency. The Ministry has proactively championed the preventive measures through memos and circulars to ensure that staff were well informed, protected and provided with all that is required to work in a safe environment.
The underlining message throughout this period by Management has been focused on ‘the health and safety of staff and their families, as well as our stakeholders.
Below are some of the key actions taken so far by the Ministry since the inception of COVID-19 in Ghana:
ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE MINISTRY TO PROTECT STAFF AND STAKEHOLDERS
On 26th February 2020, the Ministry issued its first covid-19 memo to staff, mainly with information on safety tips, e.g. frequent hand washing, physical distancing etc. while awaiting guidelines from the Ministry of Health on how to manage the disease at workplaces. The Ministry provided hand washing facilities and sanitizers at vantage points for visitors and staff.
Sanitizer Dispensers, sun sinks and veronica buckets have been procured and fixed at all vantage points in the Ministry and all staff and stakeholders are under the Ministry’s mandatory washing/sanitizing of hands policy. A thermal camera and some thermometer guns are used to gauge temperature of staff and to assist anyone with high temperature to access a health facility. A mandatory ‘No Mask No Entry’ #MaskUp! Campaign was enforced in the Ministry from April 2020.
All stakeholders are encouraged to use the Ministry’s available online portals in contacting the Ministry. The Employee Wellbeing Committee responsible for the sustained health and safety of staff was on hand to provide further support to staff as and when needed. The Ministry has ensured that its facilities are COVID19 compliant by the provision of PPEs to staff and to the community within the Ministries enclave. Regular fumigation exercises have taken place in collaboration with the Office of the Head of Civil Service.
Our Janitorial Service Providers are trained to ensure 30 minutes’ interval cleaning of all surfaces such as door handles lift knobs, regular cleaning of balustrades etc. The in- house cleaners and Security had been periodically supplied with PPE’s to enable them effectively combat the pandemic.
The health and safety of our staff and stakeholders have been paramount before and during this pandemic. Regular memos have been sent to staff by the Hon. Minister and the Chief Director to check on their wellbeing. These memos have provided assurance to staff with emphasis on mental health and wellbeing. Staff have been encouraged to remain calm and observe the safety protocols. Staff have received specific contact details of clinical psychologists and counsellors to enable them reach out for psychological support during the pandemic. All Staff of the Ministry have also been supplied with hand sanitizers as well as immune boosting zinc and vitamin C.
In addition, the Ministry has educated staff through professional Clinical Psychologists during a virtual staff durbar held in August 2020. COVID19 educational materials have also been posted at vantage points in the Ministry, in addition to screensaver reminders on staff desktops, and email signatures reminding staff about the need to observe the protocols. Our lifts can mandatorily take only two persons and there are floor stickers to remind staff about physical distancing and other safety protocols.
In line with guidance from the Office of the Head of Civil Service, Management has also introduced flexi working conditions for staff. All Divisions maintain a core team of staff in the office and have divided their staff into three main groups with a rotational schedule. Staff have also been directed to embark on their annual leave especially for those who have several leave days outstanding.
In line with the new normal, the Ministry has invested in virtual tools to enable staff to work from home and to effectively communicate with limited face to face interactions. Video and audio conferencing facilities have been provided for staff.
- Covid-19 is real. Stay safe.
- Wash and sanitize your hands frequently during the day and avoid shaking hands.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Wear your masks at all times and avoid touching your face. Remember it’s an offence to go out without a mask. #maskup • Sanitize your workspace i.e. disinfect the screens of your mobile phone, desktop, laptop, your keyboard and mouse on a regular basis.
- Observe physical distancing by maintaining physical distance of at least 2 meters always.
- Limit face to face meetings. If you definitely must meet, ensure not more than 5 persons in a meeting room and maintain physical distance of at least 2 meters.
- Delivery services - Pick up deliveries at the reception.
- Refrain from talking in the lift
- Sanitize your hands before and after touching the lift buttons. • Avoid crowded eating areas, observe physical distancing protocols while eating.
- Limit external visitors. All meetings with external stakeholders and third parties are to be conducted over the phone, zoom, google meet etc.
- Use tissue to cover your mouth when you cough and dispose of tissue immediately or Cough into your elbow
• Fever, Cough, Trouble breathing. aches and pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhoea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes etc.
- If you feel unwell, alert your supervisor and stay home.
- If you need to talk to someone, call: 020 000 0000. 020 000 0000
- For general health care, call the tele medicine hotline: 020 000 0000,
- For severe symptoms or emergencies, call the Ghana COVID-19 number: 112
- For general information on COVID-19, call: 311, hotline – 0307011419, Mobile 055 843 9868 or 050 949 7700
SUSPECTED OR CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASES AT THE OFFICE
1. What are the Suspected Symptoms of COVID-19?
As provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and tiredness. Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include aches and pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhoea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but only have very mild symptoms.
2. Can I Contract the COVID-19 Infection from a Person who Shows no Symptoms?
Yes, you can. Many people with COVID-9 experience only mild symptoms. It is possible to catch the virus from someone who has just a mild cough and does not feel ill.
3. What Should I do if I come in Contact with an Employee who is Showing the Suspected Symptoms of COVID-19?
First of all, not everyone showing the symptoms of COVID-19 has necessarily contracted the infection. All the same, individuals in such predicaments should self-isolate and get tested. But while all these precautions are being taken, inform your immediate supervisor without having any physical contact with him or her.
4. When Should a Recovered COVID-19 Employee Return to Work?
Once a staff is cleared by the approved medical facilities, they should return to work.
The COVID19 pandemic can affect anyone without discrimination. The Ministry is committed to the no stigmatization campaign. Our no stigmatization message is:
Show care to the affected:
Show care to the recovered.
B. REDUCING THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 AT THE OFFICE
1. As part of my work, I constantly relate to stakeholders and other employees of the Ministry, what do I do?
You must adopt the use of virtual means of communication and interactions. Face-to-face meetings must be replaced with digital platforms such as zoom and skype whilst webinars can be used for workshops and trainings.
2. How Often must I wash my Hands?
You must wash your hands as often as possible with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Where soap and water are not readily available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Nonetheless, it is recommended that you wash your hands especially during key times like;
- After touching objects that have been handled by customers or other employees.
- Before and after work breaks or work shifts.
- After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- After using the washroom
- After touching garbage
(Source:www.cdc.gov / )
C. WORKING FROM HOME
1. What are the best Practices to Consider while Working from Home?
- Designate an “office” space at home by creating a quiet area in the house to enable you to concentrate.
- Observe all the confidentiality requirements of the Ministry
- Find an area in which work-related material can be stored and organized and secured.
- Participate in Divisional virtual meetings to discuss progress on your work assignments.
- Establish rules or guidelines for yourself and your family members to make it clear that you are engaged on your job/work and not available for non-essential issues in the home.
- Take note of the MOF work from home protocols and observe them.
2. What Happens to my Annual Leave days when I’m Working from Home?
Each employee is entitled to some specific number of days within the year to take time off work and rest, rejuvenate and attend to other personal issues. Therefore, all staff are mandated to take their annual leave whether they are working from home or office.
With the easing of Restrictions do I have to still observe the Protocols?
The pandemic is not over, even though some restrictions have been eased. You are still required to strictly observe the protocols for your own safety and that of your family/colleagues.
1. Ensure good lighting and proper positioning of the camera before a virtual meeting commences.
2. Files and/or links that will be shared during a virtual meeting should be ready before the start of the meeting.
3. Participants are advised to mute their microphone when they are not speaking. Instances where the microphone has to be unmuted, participants must be mindful of background noise in order to avoid interruptions.
4. Staff are required to turn on their video during official meetings.
E. PREVENTION REMINDERS
To prevent the spread of illness and viruses, MoF staff are reminded to:
1. Regularly wash your hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds
2. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water are not readily available
3. Cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
4. Properly dispose of used tissue
5. Limit handshakes and hugs and avoid touching your face
6. Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at the office
7. Ensure social distancing as much as possible