Ghana allocates GH¢2.5m in preparedness against coronavirus

Kwaku Agyemang Manu

Though there is no confirmed case of the coronavirus in Ghana, the Government has allocated GH¢2.5 million as start-up towards the initial implementation of the national preparedness plan.

The move is in response to recommendation by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for countries to strengthen their health systems following the outbreak of the deadly disease in China, which started in the Wuhan City.

Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, who made the announcement in a brief to Parliament, said the Ministry had initiated a process to procure 10,000 pieces of personal protective equipment for use by frontline workers.

As part of efforts to effectively coordinate activities, Ghana’s Public Health Emergency Management Structures at national, regional and district levels have been put on high alert.

Also a National Technical Coordination Committee, with experts from various health and security agencies, has been formed and stakeholders being engaged on the disease.

The experts are from the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ghana Health Service, the WHO, Veterinary Services Department, Immigration Service, security agencies, and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said the MOH had also held a meeting with the Chinese Ambassador on the regulation of high risk travels to and from the affected areas.

In addition to screening for fever, using walk through and non-contact thermometers at the Kotoka International Airport and other designated points of entry had been deemed necessary and plans were underway to ensure all points of entry had the non-contact thermometers.

“We are also using Health Declaration Forms to extract salient information from travellers to assess their risk profile,” Mr Agyeman-Manu said.

“In respect of laboratory confirmation, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research has demonstrated capacity to conduct tests for confirmation.”

For case management, the MOH had designated treatment centres, isolation facilities and holding places for the management of any cases that would be confirmed or suspected.

Also, the Tema General, Ga East, Ridge, and the Police hospitals as well as all the Regional and Teaching Hospitals have the capacity to treat cases.

The Ministry has conducted training for case management teams in Tema and Ridge hospitals and initiated a process to designate more centres in the highly populated areas of Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale.

The Minister assured the nation that dedicated ambulances were available for safe transport of any suspected and confirmed case for further management.

On social mobilisation and risk management, he announced that a national social mobilisation and risk communication emergency response had been developed for management.

He also said key message and alerts have been developed for use by the public while other mass and social media channels and engagements were being used for information dissemination.

“We continue to conduct monitoring and provide responses through health promotion and intelligence,” he said.

He advised the public to regularly wash their hands with soap and water, use alcohol hand rub, and keep a distance of at least one meter from a person showing signs of fever, cough and difficulty in breathing.

“People should seek treatment immediately at the nearest health facility if infection is suspected, if symptoms occur or upon advice by a health worker,” he added.

He called on the private sector and development partners to support the Government in the preparedness plan.

In a related statement, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Habib Tijani, reported an estimated 30,000 Ghanaians live across China, out of which close to 8,000 are students.

“The Embassy of Ghana in Beijing is in touch with them through their leadership,” he said, but that 152 Ghanaians have been caught up in the lock down of the city.

“Mission has contacted them and has, in conjunction with NUGS-CHINA, provided them with basic items such as nose masks, sanitisers and some groceries.”

Government has also granted approval for the Mission in Beijing to expend US$4,286 to cater for emergency needs.

Despite the initial opposition, he said the Government of China has now agreed for the evacuation of Ghanaian students in China on condition that the evacuation would be by Charter Flight direct to Ghana.

“This means that evacuees will not be allowed to board commercial flights or pass through third countries,” Mr Habib explained.

China’s Ministry of Health reported to the WHO, an outbreak of the new Coronavirus Infection in December 2019. The coronavirus designated 2019-nCoV was first identified in Wuhan city, the capital of China’s Hubei Province.

The virus has shown evidence of human to human transmission with the number of cases sharply increasing to thousands, and recording a number of deaths.

As of February 4 this year, over 20,000 cases have been reported from China and 26 other countries with the death toll hovering over 427.

Source: GNA

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