The Ghana statistical service (GSS) has stated that vaccine roll-out & adherence to COVID-19protocols are critical as travel patterns get back to normal. That is according to a new GSS report on travel within the country published in collaboration with the Flowminder Foundation, and Vodafone Ghana.
The GSS published the report on April 27, 2021. It reveals that the movement of people between districts and regions is back to the pre-COVID era.
Moreover, the report shows that there was a sharp reduction in travels during the partial lockdown of 2020. Nevertheless, about 50% of people in the regions are now moving within and between regions. This is almost the same as it was at the beginning of the pandemic. To aid this analysis, Vodafone Ghana provided anonymized and aggregated (group-level statistics) telecommunications network data.
Meanwhile, the GSS notes that it examined the impact of mobility-related policies since the start of the pandemic on population movements.
More importantly, the report highlights three mobility trends. This includes a decrease during partial lockdown (March 2020) and gradual recovery from June to December 2020. The last trend is a possible decrease from mid-January 2021. This is in response to the presidential address about the second wave of COVID-19 in the country.
“The partial lockdown and mobility restrictions are likely to have slowed the rate of COVID-19 infections in the country. A recovery to pre-pandemic mobility levels could be positive for participation in the economy but poses a challenge in containing COVID-19 outbreaks.
“This analysis reinforces the urgency of a successful vaccination campaign. There is a risk of this increased mobility leading to increased infection rates unless people continue adhering to measures”.Government Statistician Professor Samuel Annim.
According to Prof. Annim, some of these measures are mask-wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing. Also, he advised that people “have the vaccine when it is their turn”.
Furthermore, the report reveals that by February 2021, half of the country’s regions or more had recovered to their pre-COVID in-region travel patterns. Moreover, the remaining regions are also close to a total recovery. However, the GSS states that the two most populous regions, Greater Accra and Ashanti, seem to be experiencing a comparatively slower recovery.
“Large scale changes in mobility are both a cause and an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic”.Patricia Obo-Nai, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vodafone Ghana
According to her, Vodafone’s data was anonymized and processed in a way that maintains the privacy of the subscribers. She explained that this is helping the government better understand how people’s travel patterns have changed over the past year. The CEO of Vodafone Ghana adds that this will “support upcoming policy decisions and keep control of the epidemic”.
However, the GSS acknowledges the need to consider limitations inherent in the data. Nevertheless, the Service assures that the analysis provides insights on how people have been moving nationally and regionally compared to the start of 2020 and 2019.
“The analysis relies on data from Vodafone Ghana, which provides a good indicator of changes in a population’s movements as a significant proportion of the population is included in the dataset, but changes in phone usage behavior over time also play a role in the analysis. These can make the comparison of current mobility with last year’s mobility difficult”.Wole Ademola Adewole, Implementation Coordinator at Flowminder