A former Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa is advocating for a more far-reaching directive from the government with regards to international travels and internal movements in order to tackle the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ghana.
Prof. Badu Akosa while contributing to a discussion on the subject on The Point of View on Citi TV said it will be better for the country to assume that it has reached a level of community infection and escalate the country’s response mechanisms to correspond with the situation.
President Nana Akufo-Addo on Sunday, March 15, 2020 announced new public gathering advisories to check the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Among other things, he announced a ban on funerals, festivals, all religious activities, conferences and all other events that call for a mass gathering of people.
But Prof. Badu Akosa said more stringent directives must be given by the government to help the country contain and deal with the virus.
“I don’t think that [the current directives] will be enough. It needs to be more far-reaching and it is important that we do it at this stage because if we allow one community infection, as far as I am concerned, that will be the trigger…I think that the best scenario is to assume we have community infection and seriously think about the next move,” he said.
Prof. Akosa said the six cases recorded in the country could sharply increase as some of those who came into contact with the patients may also begin showing symptoms.
Reacting to the government’s new travel advisories that include a ban on foreigners from countries with over 200 reported Coronavirus cases and without a residence permit coming into the country, the former Director-General said the government must ensure compulsory quarantine for all foreigners returning from countries that have recorded local cases of Coronavirus.
He said, “it is better for us to compulsorily quarantine anyone coming from any of the countries where there is an in-country case for 14 days because it is important that we make sure that nobody is bringing this infection into the Ghanaian community.”
He, however, said consideration can be made for Ghanaians who are able to self-isolate upon return from Coronavirus-hit countries.
Defective health systems
Prof. Agyemang Badu Akosa said stricter measures were needed for Ghana because its health system was not good enough to effectively handle cases of Coronavirus should it attain the height of community infection.
He expressed regret that although the sector made positive strides in tackling the rising cases of HIV years ago, it did not improve upon those systems and protocols to make the sector stronger to fight another outbreak such as the 2019 Coronavirus.
“We cannot handle the consequence [of a community infection]… Our health systems are not that good,” he said.
He, however, called for further education and training of health professionals to put them in a better position to help fight the disease.
Coronavirus cases in Ghana
As at noon on Sunday, March 15, 2020, six cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Ghana.
Director of Public Health at Ghana Health Service, Dr Badu Sarkodie who provided updates on the country’s cases on Sunday said all the cases were imported into the country.
The first two cases were confirmed on Thursday, March 12, 2020.
Two other cases were confirmed on Friday, March 13, 2020, while an additional two were confirmed on Saturday, March 14, 2020.
Five of the cases were confirmed in the Greater Accra Region while the remaining one was confirmed in the Ashanti Region.
Health officials have been working to trace persons who have come into contact with the patients and may be at risk of contracting the virus.