A Ranking Member on Parliament’s Health Committee, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, has reiterated calls for the government to conduct mass COVID-19 tests in Senior High Schools (SHS).
The Juaboso MP says testing and isolation of cases will be a better solution to the spike in cases in the schools.
“This is basic. If the government doesn’t know this, then I don’t know the kind of people governing us. They do testing and those who test negative will be asked to join their families. Those who test positive will be isolated and treated like any other Ghanaian who tests positive. This is not difficult but the situation is looking more dangerous,” he said.
So far, parents, educational stakeholders, the minority in parliament, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the National Council for Parent Teacher Association (PTA) have called the closure of the schools given the increase in the number of cases being recorded in the schools.
The NDC, for instance, said a reversal of the reopening of schools would be the only way to express the government’s commitment of not endangering the lives of students and staff as promised.
It added that the government must conduct mass testing of the students before they are allowed to return to their homes.
“The lives of Ghanaian students, teachers and non-teaching staff should be valued equally and the government must take immediate steps to reverse its decision and to begin the process of returning students to their homes. This will necessarily include mass testing of students to ascertain their COVID-19 status before they are released to their parents to minimize the risk of exporting cases from campuses to communities.”
Shutting down schools not advisable
But Deputy Minister for Health, Dr. Bernard Okoe Boye believes closing down schools over cases of COVID-19 recorded in some second cycle institutions is not advisable.
He made the remark following calls on the government to allow the Senior High School students to go home.
“I have to check with the Ghana Education Service on their protocols and on their statutes on letting students go home but the advice I can give as a public health person is that when you pick your child from school and say you are taking your child home, remember the virus is at home, the virus is at the workplace and the virus is on the street. The best bet is to take care of yourself because your child might actually be exposed more.”
According to Dr. Okoe Boye, everyone is exposed to the virus and people can only protect themselves from contracting the disease by adhering to the laid down preventive protocols.
“Imagine if you have a parent who is a taxi driver who comes across 200 people before he goes home or imagine a parent who sells at Makola or myself who moves from one hospital to the other; the virus is around. We all can expose our kids. That’s why all of us must take care of ourselves so we don’t carry the virus home,” he said.