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Is Ghana prepared for COVID-19?

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Written By Albert Quashigah - On the day of Ghana’s 63rd Anniversary, on CNN, United States Vice-President, Mike Pence, not only addressed the Americans, but with a team of coronavirus TaskForce made up of doctors, he took questions on a wide range of issues on the marauding disease.


Unfortunately, even mighty America has recorded cases already. Due to this, I have pushed back the thought of calling for schools to be closed down, even as the firts two cases are reported in Ghana.

Preparation

The availability of tests does not mean the availability of test kits. It is possible to have places for tests, but not test kits. A few days before the Mike Pence engagement, I entered a pharmacy in Accra and asked the pharmacist if the pharmacy could test for coronavirus.

A lady reporting there earlier and exhibiting what, with my untrained mind, might have been COVID -19 symptoms, was also asking for tests to be done. The response from the pharmacist suggested that making the test kits available to even pharmacies was nearly impossible. From the pharmacist’s countenance, my request must have been far-fetched.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced a $100million package to enhance the country’s preparedness towards prevention and containing the virus. Now that we have reported cases, actions on containment must be seen.

During the President’s interaction with hospitals on Ghana’s preparedness, it was reported that tests for samples of suspected cases were available at Noguchi within six to eight hours. The question then arises as to whether the tests, in whatever form or however it is done, are available across all public facilities and private ones.

This answer cannot be in the affirmative because even the wealthy USA, so far, has not been able to make available the tests in all its states. So far, the Federal Government claims that the coronavirus tests are available in all public laboratories in America and the prospects of making the tests more available in coming weeks are high.

Better updates

All our neighbours: Togo, Cote d’Iviore and Burkina Faso have recorded cases of COVID-19 and now Ghana has recorded six cases. Some countries have closed entry borders and ports, and banned travel from certain countries. Ghanaians need reports on concrete steps taken. Ghanaians need to be told that a number of kits have been supplied.

To some extent only, it was satisfying that our government was not aloof and waiting to be surprised. That notwithstanding, the absence of visible activity at the battlefront against the virus in the country is worrying to say the least.

What are these tests and test kits? How widely available are they? How available are protective gear for medical staff? While asking questions, commendation is in order for the effort so far. If it were an election, police personnel and the army would be visible everywhere.

Ghanaians want to enter hospitals and see anti COVID-19 stands; visibility is normally reassuring.

Protocols

From the President’s interaction with medical staff, the protocols covering the admittance of suspected cases into hospitals were clarified.

The suspected patient was to enter through a door into a secluded place, remain there and be attended to, until certified as cleared of the infection or sick of it. The government must do more by unravelling its plans for expanding test centres and kits, etc.

These kits might seem elementary, but there is strong suspicion that they are not present across all health centres in Ghana. Ghanaians need credible updates.

Coronavirus disease, which is now a pandemic, should not be left to chance and the dubious claims of spiritual solutions.

Not only must the world unite in finding a solution soon, but in Ghana, our politicians must unite for our health and welfare.

 

The writer is a lawyer and lecturer. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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