The Ghana Information Minister, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah on Friday entreated the media to respect the protocols put in place to manage the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, to avoid creating unnecessary fear and panic in the country.
The advice comes amidst confirmation of Ghana’s first two COVID-19 cases. The two patients have been quarantined to prevent the spread of the flu-like virus.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah, speaking in an interview, said the Emergency Operating Team set up by the health authorities had begun contact tracing of all persons who had had engagements with the pair since their arrival in the country a week ago.
He said one of the persons confirmed with the virus is a Ghanaian who works in Turkey whilst the other one is a Norwegian citizen.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah said in view of the latest development on COVID-19, Government would make an announcement on travel restrictions to countries with the confirmed cases in due course.
Commenting on the usage of the $100 million earmarked to fight the disease, the Minister said in cases the virus escalate, government would use the funds to procure equipment and logistics such as nose masks, respiratory devices, purchase test kits, create isolation centres, among others.
“We will scale up the availability of isolation centres and quarantine centres beyond what we have now and procure more respiratory devices to help those who might have difficulty in breathing,” Mr Oppong Nkrumah said.
The Minister advised anyone who exhibited symptoms of the virus to quickly contact the COVID-19 hotlines for assistance.
He entreated all travelers who arrived at the Kotoka International Airport from any trip abroad to provide accurate information in order to assist the Emergency Operating Team to easily trace them.
He said there were emergency ambulances on standby to pick those who call the COVID-19 hotlines from their homes to the isolation centres.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah urged the public to observe the preventive measures issued by the health authorities such as regular washing of hands with soap under running water, use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, avoid shaking of hands, keep a distance of two metres from persons with fever, cough, sneezing and difficulty in breathing.
He said it was good to drink plenty water, eat healthy food and have enough sleep.
The Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health have held stakeholder engagements with points of entry staff with the Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL), Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority to sensitise them and strengthen their preparedness and surveillance on the flu-like disease.
The GACL staff were sensitised on case detention and infection prevention and control and ensure passengers who arrived at the airport were screened using thermal scanning devices and passengers required to fill a health detention forms.
The GHS and the MoH have activated the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) while alerts were sent to all regions to activate Public Health Emergency Management Committee to initiate preparedness activities and enhance surveillance for the disease.
Ghana has so far tested 66 suspected cases of coronavirus at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research out of which two proved positive.
The disease since it was reported in late last year in Hubei Province of Wuhan in China, the epicenter of the disease, has spread to 120 countries and territories with 118,000 reported cases and about 4000 deaths.
Symptoms of Coronavirus include; fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing which could be fatal.
The disease is spread through coughing and sneezing; close personal unprotected by touching or contact with infected person).
Presently, various treatment options are being explored, there is no cure, treatment is mainly symptomatic, there is no vaccine and prevention is mainly by adherence to cough and sneezing etiquette and improved personal hygiene.