Covid-19 mobile testing starts soon as gov’t urges strict observance of protocols

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Head of Virology Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), Professor William Kwabena Ampofo

Authorities leading Ghana’s fight against the novel coronavirus say plans are far advanced for the country to begin mobile testing for the world pandemic.

According to the Head of Virology Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), Professor William Kwabena Ampofo, equipment for the testing have arrived in the country while training of personnel to undertake the testing is currently ongoing.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra yesterday, he disclosed that piloting of the mobile testing has begun with the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority.

The new technology is being employed by the country following report of shortage of reagents and other medical supplies in the country, a situation which is hampering the country’s ability to test samples timely.

First consignment of the bulk supplies from China, funded by ministries of Finance and Health, arrived in Accra on Saturday, July 4.

Equipment and medical supplies in the first consignment received include 100,000 scrubs, 150,000 sample collection medium, 100,000 KN95 masks, more than 700,000 natural examination gloves and 260,000 PCR devices for Covid-19 testing.

Professor Kwabena Ampofo explained that the network of laboratories testing for COVID-19, with the arrival of the equipment, would be conducting between 100,000 and 300,000 tests.

He added that health authorities are also considering plans to use Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT), which are currently going through approval processes at the Food and Drugs authority (FDA), to test persons who have recovered from COVID-19 after 14 days of discharge to determine their immune status and ascertain whether they have developed antibodies against the virus.

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Safety in schools

The government has also instituted a subcommittee from the Covid-19 Presidential Taskforce to monitor schools, especially as final year Senior High School students prepare for the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) in the next eight weeks.

The committee will be responsible for ensuring that guidelines on campus quarantine are strictly enforced and any gaps swiftly addressed where incidents are suspected.

According to the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the move follows investigations of specific incidents that have been reported on suspected outbreak in some institutions. It is as well to ensure that safety on campuses is not compromised.

Oversight

“The subcommittee has also been tasked to oversee the operations of the regional monitoring teams, which are already in place across the various regions. The committee is to ensure that the guidelines on campus quarantine are strictly enforced and any gaps swiftly addressed where incidents are suspected,” he said at the media briefing yesterday.

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In a bid to ensure that anxious parents do not troop to schools when they hear of reports of suspected cases in the institutions of their wards, the COVID-19 information centre has been given additional persons to cater for such issues.

“So, if you are a parent and you are reading a story online, and you are hearing something, we encourage you to call 311… Dedicated officers are being put there to help connect parents to the schools to validate whether some of the reports are true,” the Information Minister said.

Voter registration

Meanwhile, stakeholders in the ongoing voters’ registration exercise have been advised by government to observe the COVID-19 protocols.

Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said though the various stakeholders, like the Electoral Commission (EC), the security agencies and the larger Ghanaian population, are all ensuring that the various protocols are observed, there is more to be done to curb the spread of the virus.

“Government acknowledges the efforts of the Electoral Commission and security agencies to ensure that preventive etiquette, including social distancing and wearing of masks, is observed by persons who visit registration centres.

“But we believe more can be done by all stakeholders, Electoral Commission, the security agencies and citizens who are visiting these centres, especially in the cities and in the cosmopolitan areas. In the outskirt, you will find that there is a lot more observance and social distancing but in the cities and cosmopolitan areas where the population is high, in people’s rush, you will still find people who are not observing these protocols,” he said.

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Case count

Updating the nation on Ghana’s case count, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said it has risen to 23,463, after 641 new infections were recorded in 52 districts across eight regions.

The number of clinically discharged persons is 18,622, with 4,717 active cases remaining, while the number of deaths remains at 129.

Of the confirmed cases of the virus, 9,403 were detected through routine surveillance, while the other 14,060 were detected from contact tracing.

The Greater Accra Region accounted for 388 of the new cases, which are in 16 out of 29 districts.

According to the service, majority of the cases in the Greater Accra Region are from Korle Klottey, La Dadekotopon, the Accra Metro, Ayawaso West, Ledzokuku and Tema, which had been previously identified as hotspots.

The Ashanti Region also had 148 new cases from 18 out of 43 districts.

Source: Daily Statesman

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