The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has warned that the country is likely to experience a fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic if improved efforts are not put in place.
The Association, in a statement signed by Dr Frank Serebour and Dr Titus Beyuo, President and General Secretary respectively, said the emergence of the new Omicron variant calls for concerted efforts from all, and encouraged the populace to get vaccinated.
The Association further asked that the government continues with efforts to secure more vaccines for the country.
“We urge the government to continue all efforts at limiting importation of COVID-19 by increased testing at the ports of entry as well as sequencing of all positive cases to enable prompt detection and containment of mutant strains such as the omicron variant.
“It has been gratifying to note the downward trend of active cases of COVID-19 in Ghana that saw us record zero new cases on some days in the past few weeks and we commend all stakeholders for the efforts to achieve this feat,” the statement said and reiterated the need for all to adhere strictly to the existing COVID-19 prevention protocols at all events and activities, especially during the yuletide,” the statement read.
The statement said with several mutations noted on the spike protein of the mutant strain, it is still unknown if the new strain may evade immunity acquired from past infection or vaccination.
It said data available from South Africa has shown that in the Gauteng Province, the R0 (1.93) of Omicron variant is higher than that of the Delta variant (R0 of 1.47), meaning the new variant may be potentially more infectious than the Delta variant.
Meanwhile, government has declared this month, December, as a vaccination month.
The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kumah-Aboagye, who addressed a press conference earlier this week, said the vaccine mandates would be applicable from January 2022 and targeted at specific groups and venues.
“These mandates become effective after the vaccination month. The proposed groups to be covered under the mandate are employees across the three arms of government, health workers, security personnel, staff and students in secondary and tertiary institutions and workers in Government institutions, including parastatals, as well as commercial drivers among others,” he noted.
Enumerating Ghana’s COVID-19 situation as of November 25, 2021, he revealed that the total confirmed cases were 131,082, out of about 1,980,369 tests done, representing 6.6 percent of overall positivity cases, with 129,149 recoveries, 1,220 deaths, 713 active cases and 22 severe cases as well as zero critical cases.
The GHS Director-General said about five vaccines, including AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1-S), Moderna, Pfizer, Sputnik-V and Johnson & Johnson, had had Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) of Ghana.
“Despite the low percentage of COVID-19 infection among international arrivals to Ghana, there are still significant differences in the percentages based on vaccination status,” he recounted.
He disclosed that among severe and critical cases admitted to the Ghana Infectious Diseases Centre, about 97 percent had not been vaccinated. He said persons who are unvaccinated 30 times more likely to have a severe or critical COVID-19 illness compared to vaccinated persons.
Dr Kumah-Aboagye added that among COVID-19 deaths at the Ghana Infectious Diseases Centre, 12.5 percent involved persons who had been vaccinated, disclosing that they also had severe underlying medical conditions.