Gov’t commits initial GHC2.8 million to fight coronavirus

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Kwaku Agyeman Manu, Minister of Health

Government says it has committed an initial amount of GHC2.8 million to help the country’s preparation for the fight against the coronavirus disease.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Health, contrary to claims that Ghana is not prepared to deal with the disease, should it spread into the country, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) and Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research have the capacity to test for the COVID-19 disease.

Ghana is classified among 13 Priority-1 countries in World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa region for being at risk, based on flights and passenger volumes.

The COVID-19 was first reported from Wuhan, China, on December 31 2019, and has since demonstrated efficient human-to-human transmission, leading to WHO declaring the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

Consequently, the WHO has requested all member states to strengthen systems for preparedness to prevent importation, ensure early detection and appropriate response to any emergence.

According to Ghana’s Ministry of Health, some 24 suspected cases, which were reported, have all tested negative for COVID-19.

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“Samples from 24 suspected cases have been received and tested on at the NMIMR. All the 24 suspected cases have tested negative for COVID-19, and EIGHT (8) tested positive for Influenza,” the statement said.

Preparation

According to the Ministry, using the guidelines from WHO, it has developed a plan to address identified gaps in respect of preparedness, response and control activities.

The thematic areas include coordination, points of entry (PoE), surveillance, laboratory testing, case management/infection prevention and control (IPC), risk communication/social mobilisation, logistics and partner support.

With regards to ongoing preparedness activities, the Ministry’s statement said public health emergency management structures have been activated at the national, regional and districts levels.

Again, the Ministry said alert has been sent to all regions to update their respective preparedness plan and activate the respective public health emergency management committees.

According to the Ministry, there has been stakeholders meeting involving the Ghana Health Service directors at the national office, regional directors of health services (RDHS), chief executive officers (CEOs) of teaching hospitals, Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), the private sector, National Ambulance Service (NAS), Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) and Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR).

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Information sharing

The statement further indicated that the Minister of Health has engaged the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, to enhance information sharing and discuss issues related to the safety, security, and well-being of Ghanaian nationals in China, and also discuss the requisite monitoring /surveillance activities for Chinese nationals travelling to Ghana.

“Alerts on the outbreak have been issued by the Director General (DG) of Ghana Health Service (GHS) and circulated to all regions and districts to initiate preparedness activities and enhance surveillance for respiratory diseases,” the statement said.

Points of entry

Reacting to concerns raised on the country’s point of entry, the Ministry said stakeholder engagements have been held with the managements of Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL), Kotoka International Airport (KIA), Ghana Immigration Services, Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority, Tema Port, among others, to strengthen COVID-19 preparedness and surveillance systems.

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Passengers are screened on arrival using thermal scanning and a health declaration form (HDF).

Moreover, the Ministry said sensitisation for points of entry (PoE) staff on surveillance, screening, case detection and infection prevention and control (IPC) has also been undertaken for heads of all the 14 designated points of entry and all the KIA port health staff.

Surveillance

The Ministry said COVID-19 case definition has been adapted and disseminated to regional and lower levels, whilst COVID-19 case investigation form has been adapted and shared with the regions and districts for use.

Training of regional and district rapid response teams has been planned for execution, with a quarantine facility (a newly completed 100-bed hospital) identified for potential use.

The Ministry also stated that four other facilities, Ga East, Police, LEKMA and Korle-Bu Teaching hospitals, have been identified as additional facilities to support case management.

Source: Daily Statesman

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